with giving the exact year of Noah's age of emigrants from the ark. And, if that
in which the flood began, the Pentateuchal is the case, then, as has often been pointed
story adds the month and the day of the out, the sloths of the Brazilian forests, the
month. It is the Deity himself who kangaroos of Australia, the great tortoises
“shuts in” Noah. The modest week of the Galapagoislands, must have re-
assigned to the full deluge in Hasisadra's spectively hobbled, hopped, and crawled
story, becomes forty days, in one of the over many thousand miles of land and sea
Pentateuchal accounts and a hundred and from “ Ararat” to their present babita-
fifty, in the other. The flood, which, in tions. Thus, the unquestionable facts of
the version of Berosus, has grown so high the geographical distribution of recent
as to cast the ship among the mountains of land animals, alone, form an insuperable
Armenia, is improved upon in the Hebrew obstacle to the acceptance of the assertion
account until it covers all the high hills that the kinds of animals composing the
that were under the whole heaven;" and, present terrestrial fauna have, at any time,
when it begins to subside, the ark is left been universally destroyed in the way de-
stranded on the summit of the highest scribed in the Pentateuch.
peak, commonly identified with Ararat It is upon this and other unimpeachable

grounds, that, as I ventured to say some While the details of Hasisadra's ad- time ago, persons who are duly conversant venture are, at least, compatible with the with even the elements of natural science physical conditions of the Euphrates val- decline to take the Noachian deluge seriley; and, as we have seen, involve no ously; and that, as I also pointed out, catastrophe greater than such as might be candid theologians, who, without special brought about under those conditions, scientific knowledge, have appreciated the many of the very precisely stated details weight of scientific arguments, have long of Noah's food contradict some of the since yiven it up. But, as Goethe has rebest-established results of scientific inquiry. marked, there is nothing more terrible

If it is certain that the alluvium of the than energetic ignorance ;* and there are, Mesopotamian plain has been brought even yet, very energetic people, who are down by the Tigris and the Euphrates, neither candid, nor clear-headed, nor

, then it is no less certain that the physical theologians, still less properly instructed structure of the whole valley has persisted, in the elements of natural science, who without material modification, for many make prodigious efforts to obscure the thousand years before the date assigned to effect of these plain truths, and to conceal the flood. If the summits, even of the their real surrender of the historical charmoderately elevated ridges which immedi- acter of Noah's deluge under cover of the ately bound the valley, still more those of smoke of a great discharge of pseudothe Kurdish and Armenian mountains, scientific artillery. They seem to imagine were ever covered by water, for even forty that the proofs which abound in all parts days, that water must have extended over of the world, of large oscillations of the the whole earth. If the earth was thus relative level of land and sea, combined covered, anywhere between 4000 and 5000 with the probability that, when the seayears ago, or, at any other time, since the level was rising, sudden incursions of the higher terrestrial animals came into exist- sea, like that which broke in over Holland ence, they must have been destroyed from and formed the Zuyder Zee, may have often the whole face of it, as the Pentateuchal occurred, can be made to look like eviaccount declares they were three several dence that something that, by courtesy, times (Genesis vii. 21, 22, 23), in language might be called a general Deluge has really which cannot be made inore emphatic, or taken place

Their discursive energy more solemn, than it is ; and the present drags misunderstood truth into their serpopulation must consist of the descendants vice ; and “ the glacial epoch” is as sure with bitumen. Doubtless the practice is ex.

to crop up among them as King Charles's tremely ancient ; and, as Colonel Chesney sug

head in a famous memorial—with about gests, may possibly have furnished the concep- as much appropriateness. The old story tion of Noah's ark. But it is one thing to of the raised beach on Moel Tryfaen is build a barge 44 ft. long by 11 ft. wide and 4 ft. deep in the way described ; and another to *“Es ist nichts schrecklicher als eine get a vessel of ten times the dimensions, so thätige Unwissenheit.' Maximen und Reflexio. constructed, to hold together.

nen, iii.


trotted out ; though, even if the facts are of that pleistocene period, of which the as yet rightly interpreted, there is not a great ice age” formed a part. shadow of evidence that the change of sea. Judæa and Galilee, Moab and Gilead, level in that locality was sudden, or that occupy part of that extensive tableland at glacial Welshmen would have known it the summit of the western boundary of was taking place.* Surely it is difficult the Euphrates valley, to which I have

I to perceive the relevancy of bringing in already referred. If that valley had ever something that happened in the glacial been filled with water to a height suffi. epoch (if it did happen) to account for the cient, not indeed to cover a third of Ararat, tradition of a flood in the Euphrates valley in the north, or half some of the mountains between 2000 and 3000 B.C. But the date of the Persian frontier in the east, but to of the Noachian food is solidly fixed by reach even four or five thousand feet, it the sole authority for it ; no shuffling of must have stood over the Palestinian hog'sthe chronological data will carry it so far back, and have filled, up to the brim, back as 3000 B.C.; and the Hebrew epos every depression on its surface. Thereagrees with the Chaldæan in placing it fore it could not have failed to fill that reafter the development of a somewhat ad- markable trench in which the Dead Sea, vanced civilization. The only authority the Jordan, and the Sea of Galilee lie, for the Noachian deluge assures us that, and which is known as the Jordanbefore it visited the earth, Cain had built Arabah” valley. cities; Jubal had invented harps and This long and deep hollow extends more organs ; while mankind had advanced so than 200 miles, from near the site of anfar beyond the neolithic, nay even the cient Dan in the north, to the water partbronze, stage that Tubulcain was a worker ing at the head of the Wady Arabah in in iron. Therefore, if the Noachian the south ; and its deepest part, at the legend is to be taken for the history of an bottom of the basin of the Dead Sea, lies event which happened in the glacial epoch, 2500 feet below the surface of the adjawe must revise our notions of pleistocene cent Mediterranean. The lowest portion civilization. On the other hand, if the of the rim of the Jordan-Arabah valley is Pentateuchal story only means something situated at the village of El Fuleh, 257 feet quite different, that bappened somewhere above the Mediterranean. Everywhere else, "thousands of years earlier, dressed else the circumjacent heights rise to a very up, what becomes of its credit as history ? much greater altitude. Hence, of the I wonder what would be said to a modern water which stood over the Syrian tablehistorian who asserted that Pekin was land, when as much drained off as could burnt down in 1886, and then tried to run away, enough would remain to form a justify the assertion by adducing evidence “Mere” without an outlet, 2757_feet of the Great Fire of London in 1666. deep, over the present site of the Dead Yet the attempt to save the credit of the Sea. From this time forth, the level of the Noachian story by references to something Palestinian mere could be lowered only by which is supposed to have happened in the evaporation. It is an extremely interestfar north, in the glacial epoch, is far more ing fact, which has happily escaped preposterous.

capture for the purposes of the energetic Moreover, these dust-raising dialecticians misunderstanding, that the valley, at one ignore some of the most important and time, was filled, certainly within 150 feet well-known facts which bear upon the of this height-probably higher. And it question. Anything more than a parochial is almost equally certain, that the time at acquaintance with physical geography and which this great Jordan-Arabah mere geology would suffer to remind its pos- reached its highest level coincides with the sessor that the Holy Land itself offers a glacial epoch. But then the evidence standing protest against bringing such a which goes to prove this, also leads to the deluge as that of Noah anywhere near it, conclusion that this state of things obtained either in historical times or in the course at a period considerably older than even

4004 B.c. when the world, according to * The well-known dificulties connected drances”) provided for the simple student

Helps” (or shall we say with this case have recently been carefully discussed by Mr. Bell in the Transactions of the of the Bible, was created ; that it was Geological Society of Glasgow.

not brought about by any diluvial catas

[ocr errors]

the 66

66 Hin


trophe, but was the result of a change in epochs down to the present time. Raised the relative activities of certain natural beaches, containing recent shells on the operations which are quietly going on Levantine shores of the Mediterranean and now; and that, since the level of the mere on those of the Red Sea, testify to a geobegan to sink, many thousand years ago, logically recent change of the sea level to no serious catastrophe of any description the extent of 250 or 300 feet, probably prohas affected the valley.

duced by the slow elevation of the land ; The evidence that the Jordan-Arabah and, as I have already remarked, the alluvial

I valley really was once filled with water, plain of the Euphrates and Tigris appears the surface of which reached within 130 to have been affected in the saine way, feet of the level of the pass of Jezrael, and though seemingly to a less extent. But of possibly stood higher, is this : Remains violent or catastrophic change there is no of alluvial strata, containing shells of the tráce. Even the volcanic outbursts have freshwater inollusks which still inhabit flowed in even sheets over the old land surthe valley, worn down into terraces by face ; and the long lines of the horizontal waves which long rippled at the same terraces which remain, testify to the geolevel, and furrowed by the channels ex- logical insignificance of such earthquakes cavated by modern rainfalls, have been as have taken place. It is indeed possible found at the former height ; and they are that the original formation of the valley repeated, at intervals, lower down, until may have been determined by the well,

. the Ghor, or plain of the Jordan, itself an known fault along which the western rocks alluvial deposit, is reached. These strata are relatively depressed and the eastern eleattain a considerable thickness ; and they vated. But whether that fault was effectindicate that the epoch, at which the fresh- ed slowly or quickly, and whenever it water mere of Palestine reached its high- came into existence, the excavation of the est level, is extremely remote ; that its valley to its present width, no less than diminution has taken place very slowly, the sculpturing of its steep walls and of

, and with periods of rest, during which the the innumerable deep ravines which score first formed deposits were cut down into them down to the very bottom, are interraces. This conclusion is strikingly dubitably due to the operation of rain and borne out by other facts. Some of the streams, during an enormous length of streams of basaltic lava which have been time, without interruption or disturbance thrown out from the craters and clefts of of any magnitude. The alluvial deposits the volcanic region (which stretches from which have been mentioned are continued Galilee to Gilead and the Hauran, on each into the lateral ravines, and have more or side of the northern end of the valley) in less filled them. But, since the waters times of which history has no record, have have been lowered, they have been cut run athwart the course of the Jordan itself, down to great depths, and are still being or of that of some of its tributary streams. excavated by the present temporary, or The lava streams, therefore, must be of perinanent, streams. Hence, it follows, later date than the depressions they fill. that all these ravines must have existed beAnd yet, where they have thus temporarily fore the time at which the valley was ocdammed the Jordan and the Jermuk, cupied by the great mere. This fact acthese streams have had time to cut through quires a peculiar importance when we the hard basalts and lay bare the beds, proceed to consider the grounds for the over which, before the lava streams in- conclusion that the old Palestinian mere vaded them, they flowed.

attained its highest level in the cold period In fact, the antiquity of the present Jor- of the pleistocene epoch. It is well dan-Arabah valley, as a hollow in a table- known that glaciers formerly came low land, out of reach of the sea, and troubled down on the flanks of Lebanon and by no diluvial or other disturbances, be- Antilebanon ; indeed, the old moraines yond the volcanic eruptions of Gilead and are the haunts of the few survivors of the of Galilee, is vast, even as estimated by a famous cedars. This implies a perennial geological standard.

No inarine deposits snow.capon Hermon of great extent ; of later than miocene age occur in or about therefore a vastly greater supply of water it ; and there is every reason to believe to the sources of the Jordan which rise on that the Syro-Arabian plateau has been dry its flanks; and, in addition, such a total land throughout the pliocene and later change in the general climate, that the in

1 a

numerable Wadys, now traversed only by been, in any respect, incommoded by the occasional storm torrents, inust have been changes which have taken place. occupied by perennial streams. All this The evidence of the general stability of involves a lower annual temperature and a the physical conditions of Western Asia, moist and rainy atmosphere. If such a which is furnished by Palestine and by the change of meteorological conditions could Euphrates valley, is only fortified if we be effected now, when the loss by evapora- extend our view northward to the Black tion from the surface of the Dead Sea Sea and the Caspian. The Caspian is a salt-pan balances all the gain from the Jor- sort of magnified replica of the Dead Sea. dan and other streams, the scale would be The bottom of the deepest part of this turned in the other direction. The waters vast inland mere is 3000 feet below the of the Dead Sea would become diluted ; level of the Mediterranean, while its surits level would rise ; it would cover, first face is lower by 85 feet. At present, it is the plain of the Jordan, then the lake of separated, on the west, by wide spaces of Galilee, then the middle Jordan between dry land from the Black Sea, which has this lake and that of Huleh (the ancient the same height as the Mediterranean, and, Merom); and, finally, it would encroach, on the east, from the Aral, 138 feet above northward, along the course of the upper that level. The waters of the Black Sea, Jordan, and, southward, up the Wady now in communication with the MediterArabah, until it reached some 260 feet ranean by the Dardanelles and the Bosphoabove the level of the Mediterranean, when rus, are salt, but become brackish northit would attain a permanent level, by send- ward, where the rivers of the steppes pour ing any superfluity through the pass of in a great volume of fresh water. Those Jezrael to swell the waters of the Kishon of the shallower northern half of the Casand flow thence into the Mediterranean. pian are similarly affected by the Volga

Reverse the process, in consequence of and the Ural, while, in the shallow bays the excess of loss by evaporation, over gain of the southern division, they become exby inflow, which must have set in as the tremely saline in consequence of the inclimate of Syria changed after the end of tense evaporation. The Aral, though sup. the pleistocene epoch, and (without taking plied by the Jaxartes and the Oxus, has into consideration any other circumstances) brackish water, There is evidence that, the present state of things must eventually in the pliocene and pleistocene periods, to be reached—a concentrated saline solution go no further back, the strait of the Darin the deepest part of the valley-water, danelles did not exist, and that the vast rather more charged with saline matter area, from the valley of the Danube to than ordinary fresh water, in the lower that of the Jaxartes, was covered by brackJordan and the lake of Galilee-fresh ish or, in some parts, fresh water to a waters, still largely derived from the snows height of at least 200 feet above the level of Hermon, in the upper Jordan and in of the Mediterranean.

At the present lake Huleh. But if the full state of the time, the water-parting which separates Jordan valley marks the glacial epoch, then the northern part of the basin of the Casit follows that the excavation of that val. pian from the vast plains traversed by the ley by atmospheric agencies must bave oc- Tobol and the Obi, in their course to the cupied an immense antecedent time-a Arctic Ocean, appears to be under 200 feet large part, perhaps the whole, of the above the latter. It would seem, therepliocene epoch ; and we are thus forced to fore, to be very probable that, under the the conclusion hat, since the miocene climatal conditions of part of the pleistocene epoch, the physical conformation of the period, the valley of the Obi played the Holy Land has been substantially what it same part in relation to the Ponto Aralian is now.

It has been more or less rained sea, as that of the Kishon may have done upon, searched by earthquakes here and to the great mere of the Jordan valley ; there, partially overflowed by lava streams, and that the outflow formed the channel slowly raised (relatively to the sea-level) a by which the well-known Arctic elements few hundred feet. But there is not a of the fauna of the Caspian entered it. shadow of ground for supposing that, For the fossil remains imbedded in the throughout all this time, terrestrial animals strata continuously deposited in the Aralohave ceased to inhabit a large part of its Caspian area, since the latter end of the surface, or that, in many parts, they have miocene epoch, show no sign that, from that time onward, it has ever been covered But the higher parts of the Mokattam and bos sea water. Therefore the supposition of the desert about Ghizeh have been dry of a free inflow of the Arctic Ocean, land from that time to this. Too little is which, at one time, was generally received, known of the geology of Persia, at presas well as that of various hypothetical ent, to allow any positive conclusion to deluges from that quarter, must be seri- be enunciated. But, taking the name to ously questioned.

indicate the whole continental mass of Iran, The Caspian and the Aral stand in some- between the valleys of the Indus and the what the same relation to the vast basin Euphrates, the supposition that its physical of dry land in which they lie as the Dead geography has remained unchanged for an Sea and the lake of Galilee to the Jordan immensely long period is hardly rash. valley. They are the remains of a vast, The country is, in fact, an enormous basin, mostly brackish, mere, which has dried up surrounded on all sides by a mountainous in consequence of the excess of evapora- rim, and subdivided within by ridges into tion over supply, since the cold and damp plateaus and hollows, the bottom of the climate of the pleistocene epoch gave place deepest of which, in the province of Seisto the increasing dryness and great sum- tan, probably descends to the level of the mer heats of Central Asia in more modern Indian Ocean. These depressions are octimes. The desiccation of the Aralo-Cas- cupied by salt marshes and deserts, in pian basin, which communicated with the which the waters of the streams which flow Black Sea only by a comparatively narrow down the sides of the basin are now dissiand shallow strait along the present valley pated by evaporation. I am acquainted of Manytsch, the bottom of which was with no evidence that the present Iranian less than 100 feet above the Mediter- basin was ever occupied by the sea ; but ranean, must have been vastly aided by the accumulations of gravel over a great the erosion of the strait of the Dardanelles extent of its surface, indicate longtoward the end of the pleistocene epoch, continued water action. It is, therefore, or perhaps later. For the result of thus a fair presumption that large lakes have opening a passage for the waters of the covered much of its present deserts, and Black Sea into the Mediterranean must that they have dried up by the operation have been the gradual lowering of its level of the same changed climatal conditions to that of the latter sea. When this proc- as those which have reduced the Caspian ess had gone so far as to bring down the and the Dead Sea to their present dimenBlack Sea water to within less than a hundred feet of its present level, the Thus it would seem that the Euphrates strait of Manytsch ceased to exist ; and valley, the centre of the fabled Noachian the vast body of fresh water brought down deluge, is also the centre of a region covby the Danube, the Dnieper, the Ion, ering some millions of square miles of the and other South Russian rivers was cut off present continents of Europe, Asia, and from the Caspian, and eventually delivered Africa, in which all the facts, relevant to into the Mediterranean. Thus there is as the argument, at present known, converge conclusive evidence as one can well hope to the conclusion that, since the miocene to obtain in these matters, that, north epoch, the essential features of its physical of the Euphrates valley, the physical geography have remained unchanged ; geography of an area as large as all Cen- that it has neither been depressed below tral Europe has remained essentially un- the sea, nor swept by diluvial waters since changed, from the miocene period down that time; and that the Chaldæan version to our time ; just as, to the west of the of the legend of a flood in the Euphrates Euphrates valley, Palestine has exhibited valley is, of all those which are extant, the a similar persistence of geographical type. only one which is even consistent with To the south, the valley of the Nile tells probability, since it depicts a local inundaexactly the same story. The holes bored tion, not more severe than one which by miocene mollusks in the cliffs east and might be brought about by a concurrence west of Cairo, bear witness that, in the miocene epoch, it contained an arm of the * An instructive parallel is exhibited by the

“ Great Basin" of North America. See the sea, the bottom of which has since been

remarkable memoir on “ Lake Bonneville'' by gradually filled up by the alluvium of the Mr. G. K. Gilbert of the United States GeoVile, and elevated to its present position. logical Survey, just published.

sions. *


« VorigeDoorgaan »