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assurance, that they will sustain the sacred trust, and transmit the precious inheritance entire, to those who shall come after them. To a mind gladdened with such reflections and prospects, how bright and benignant shines the sun of declining life? The shades of evening gather around him in peace; he reposes in joyful hope, and all his powers are invigorated and cheered by the delightful visions that burst upon his view.
And now, in view of the whole, may I not hope, that ere you rise from your seats, and in every future emergency of life, prompted by the warm impulse of duty, you will raise to heaven the expressive prayer :
“Father of light and life! Thou good Supreme!
TRAVELS IN PALESTINE.
[Continued from page 242.]
EXCURSION TO THE NORTH-EAST AND NORTH OF JERUSALEM,
TO MICHMASH, BETHEL, ETC.
Our first excursion from Jerusalem was made on horseback, and occupied two days, the 4th and 5th of May. We were accompanied by friends from the city, and made in all a party of six, besides our attendants. Our road led at first north-east, over the ridge which extends northward from the mount of Olives; and after crossing several wadys and hills, we came in about an hour to Anâta, the ancient Anathoth, the birth-place of Jeremiah. It is a miserable village, situated on a high ridge, which slopes gradually to the east, with a deep valley on the north.
From this point, there is a wide view over the whole eastern slope of the mountainous region; including also the valley of the Jordan, and the northern part of the Dead Sea. The whole tract is made up of deep rugged vallies running eastward, with broad ridges of uneven table land between, often rising into high points. The sides of the vallies are so steep, that in descending into them we were usually obliged to dismount from our horses. The whole district is a mass of limestone rock; which everywhere juts out above the surface, and imparts to the whole land only the aspect of sterility and desolation. Yet wherever soil is found among the rocks, it is strong and fertile ; fields of grain appeared occasionally; and fig-trees and olive-trees were scattered everywhere among the hills. _Lower down the slope, towards the Jordan-valley, all is desert.-The region now before us was that alluded to in Isaiah x. 28. sq. where the approach of Sennecharib towards Jerusalem is described.
Proceeding from Anathoth northwards, and crossing two deep vallies, we came in eighty minutes to Jeba, the ancient Gibeah of Saul, situated also on high land, with a deep valley on the north. West of this, on a conical hill near the Nablous road, is Râm, the ancient Ramah, now a deserted village. North-east of Jeba, across the very deep valley lies Mŭkhmâs, the ancient Mìchmash, to which we came in about three-quarters-of-an-hour. In the bottom of the valley, directly between Jeba and Mŭkhmås, are two conical hills, not very high, which are probably the scene of Jonathan's romantic adventure against the Philistines, recorded in 1 Sam. xiv.
From Michmash we continued our way northward to Dier Diwan, a large village lying also on the southern brow of a deep valley. In this vicinity, must have been the site of ancient Ai. It probably lay a short distance south of the modern village ; where are still the remains of an ancient city, such as portions of wall, reservoirs for water, and sepulchres hewn in the rock. Proceeding still northward from this village, crossing the valley which seemed deeper and more rugged than any of the rest, and following up a side-valley, we came at last to Tayibeh, a christian village situated on a lofty conical hill, about seventeen miles from Jerusalem. This spot affords a splendid view over the whole eastern slope, the vale of Jordan, the Belka, the Dead Sea, and the eastern mountains. Not far south-east of Tayibeh, is a village on a sharp, chalky, conical hill, still called Růmmon; probably the same rock Rimmon, to which the Benjamites fled, after their defeat and slaughter by the other tribes.
The next morning we bent our course nearly south-west, towards the site of ancient Bethel, which now bears in Arabic the name Beit-în. We reached this spot in two hours from Tayibeh. It lies just east of the Nablous road, forty-five minutes north-east of Bireh. Here are ruins of very considerable extent, and among them the foundations of several churches ; lying on the point of a low hill, between two shallow wadys, which unite below, and run off south-east into a deep and rugged valley. This was evidently a place of note in the early .christian ages; and apparently also in the days of the crusades. It is now entirely uninhabited'; except that a few Arabs, probably from some neighbouring village, had pitched their tent here for a time. In the western valley we spread our carpets and breakfasted on the grass, within the limits of what was once an immeuse reservoir. We obtained here from the Arabs, butter of excellent quality, which might have done honour to the days when the flocks of Abraham and Jacob, were pastured on these hills.
We passed on to Bireh, which lies on a ridge three hours from Jerusalem ; and thence nearly south-south-west by Ram-Allah a large christian village, to Jib, the Gabao of Josephus, and the Gibeon of the Scriptures. This was evidently an ancient strong hold, situated on a sharp rocky ridge rising in the midst of broad vallies or plains, which form an extensive basin, full of corn-fields, vineyards, and orchards of olive and fig-trees.
Half-an-hour south-east of Jib towards Jerusalem, a lofty ridge runs from north-east to south-west, on the summit of which, in the most conspicuous spot in the whole country, lies Nebi Samwil, a mosque, con. taining the supposed tomb of the prophet Samuel, and usually assumed as marking the site of his birth-place-Ramathaim-Zophim. The mosque was once a church, built in the form of a Latin cross, and evidently of the time of the crusades. There are insuperable objections to the hypothesis of its being the birth place of Samuel, arising out of the story of Saul's journey in search of his father's asses, and the mention of Rachel's tomb near Bethlehem in the same connexion. After long research we were disposed to regard this as the probable site of ancient Mizpeh.—Hence we returned in two hours to Jerusalem; crossing the valley of Turpentine, (so called by monks and travellers,) and ascending a branch wady which runs down to it from the head of the valley of Jehosaphat, near the tombs of the Judges.
FROM JERUSALEM TO CARMEL, ENGEDDI, THE JORDAN, ETC.
A visit to Jericho and the Jordan, is usually represented as attended with more danger than, perhaps, any other part of Palestine; and most travellers therefore take with them a guard, furnished by the governor of Jerusalem. But as the soldiers of the government would have been only objects of hatred to the unquiet Arabs, whom we might chance to fall in with, we preferred to employ, as guards and guides, some of the Arabs who live on the west side of the Dead Sea, who having formerly been themselves robbers, were well known to all the Arabs in the regions we intended to visit. We engaged the Shekh of the Taamra, with four of his men ; and had every reason to be satisfied with their fidelity and intelligence.
The excursion on which we were now entering, occupied eight days. We left Jerusalem on the 8th of May, again on horseback, and proceeded by way of Bethlehem, and so along the aqueduct, to Solomon's pools; and thence to the Frank mountain. This is a steep and lofty hill south-east of Bethlehem, having the form of a truncated cone, and rising high above all the hills and ridges of the eastern slope. On its top are the remains of ancient fortifications; and at its base on the north side are traces of an ancient town, probably Herodium, built by Herod the Great, who also was buried there. Hence we turned southwest towards Tekoa; but pitched our tent for the night near the encampment of our Arabs. Here we had an opportunity of seeing the house-keeping of the desert. The grinding at the mill, the kneading
and baking of bread, the care of the dairy, the churning of the milk, all was carried on by the women in the open tents; and it was the more interesting to us, as finely illustrating the frequent scriptural allusions to pastoral life.
A short ride brought us next morning to the elevated site of Tekoa, which still retains its ancient name, and where are the traces of a city of considerable extent. We continued our course southward, inclining somewhat to the west ; and came, after a long ride, to Beni Naim, a lofty site, with some remains of antiquity, about an hour-and-a-half nearly east of Hebron. Passing on still to the south, we came in an hour and a quarter to Ziph, where the ruins are considerable. In about an hour further we reached Kŭrmel, the ancient Carmel, the scene of David's adventure with Nabal and Abigail. Here seems to have been an important city long after the christian era. The ruins cover a large extent of ground, and there are remains of several large churches, besides a Roman fortress. About half-an-hour still further south, is Main, anciently Maon, on a conical hill overlooking the whole district. Hebron bore from here a little west of north ; and in the northwest we could see the town of Yutta, or Jutta, the probable birthplace of John the Baptist. Ziph, Carmel, and Maon, lie on the east side of an elevated plain, surrounded by low mountains, and affording fine tillage and pasturage. We read here the story of David and Nabal ; and were deeply struck with the truth of the Biblical descriptions of manners and customs, almost literally and identically the same as they exist at the present day.
From Carmel our course lay directly east, to Ain Jiddi, the ancient Engeddi, on the western shore of the Dead Sea. The way was a continual descent, sometimes by steep passes, and again crossing deep wadys. As we approached the sea, the region became more desert and desolate than ever. At every moment, we expected to arrive at the shore of the sea, and on the level of its waters; but the way at every step seemed longer and longer. At length, after a ride of seven hours, we came to the brow of the pass of Engeddi. Turning aside to what seemed a small knoll on our right, we found ourselves on the summit of a precipitous cliff, overhanging Engeddi and the sea, at least 1500 feet above its waters. The Dead Sea lay before us, in its vast deep chasm, shut in on both sides by precipitous mountains ; and, with its low projecting points, and flat border towards the south, resembling much a long winding bay, or the estuary of a large river when the tide is out, and the shoals left dry. We descended to the shore by a pass more steep, rugged, and difficult than is to be found among the Alps, and pitched our tent near the fine large fountain which bursts out upon a narrow terrace, still 400 feet above the sea. The water of the fountain is beautifully transparent; but, its temperature is 81° of Fahrenheit, or 20° of Reaumur.
The whole descent below the fountain, was apparently once terraced for gardens ; and the ruins of a town are seen on the right. The whole slope is still covered with trees and shrubs of a more southern clime ; among them we found the ösher, the fruit of which corresponds best to the ancient descriptions of the apples of Sodom. Nothing is needed but tillage to render this a most prolific spot. The soil is rich-the heat great and water abundant. The approach to the sea here is over a bank of pebbles several feet higher than the level of the water, as we saw it. The water of the sea is not entirely transparent; but objects seen through it, appear as if seen through oil. It is most intensely salt and bitter; and is exceedingly buoyant. The phenomena around the sea, are such as might be expected from the nature of its waters, and the character of the region round about for the most part a naked, dreary desert; but although we were several days in its vicinity, we perceived no noisome smell, and no pestiferous vapour arising from its waters. Of birds we saw many. Indeed at early dawn, the trees and rocks and air were full of the carols of the lark, the cheerful whistle of the quail, the call of the partridge, and warbling of innumerable songsters; while birds of prey were soaring and screaming in front of the cliffs above.
Next morning we were compelled to re-ascend the pass, in order to proceed northward along the shelving table land above; the projecting cliffs cutting off all passage below along the water. At night we encamped again on a cliff 1000 feet above the sea, overhanging the fountain Túrabeh, which is below on the shore. From this point both ends of the sea were visible. Pigeons were shooting over its surface; and in the reeds around the brackish fountain below, frogs were merrily croaking. The scene of this evening was most romantic; the full moon rose in splendour over the eastern mountains, and poured a flood of silvery light into the deep dark chasm below. Our Arabs were sleeping around us; only the tall, pensive figure of the Shekh was seen sitting before the door of the tent, his eyes intently fixed upon us as we wrote. From various data, I judged the length of the sea to be about fifty miles; its breadth cannot exceed ten or twelve miles.
We continued our course next day, descending again by a difficult pass; and after travelling for several hours along the shore and over the plain, the soil of which is here in many parts like ashes, we arrived at the lower fords of the Jordan,-a deep turbid stream with a still but strong current. The river is here, from 80 to 100 feet broad, winding its way through a cane-brake or jungle, which renders it inaccessible except in spots. It was now the time of wheat-harvest in the valley ; and we found the river, as of old, overflowing the banks of its ordinary channel ; as was the case when the Israelites approached it, Joshua iii. Hence we came in two hours to Jericho, passing on our way the fine fountain Hajleh, the probable site of the ancient Beth-Hoglah, on the border between Judah and Benjamin.
Jericho and its environs reminded me strongly of Egypt and its villages. The plain is rich, and susceptible of easy and abundant irrigation from copious fountains on its western side; it is easy of tillage, and enjoys a climate adapted to produce anything Yet it lies almost desert, or overgrown only by a species of thorny tree; and the village is the most wretched and filthy in Palestine. Only one solitary palm now rears its head in what was once the city of palm-trees.