78 QOMATTER—A SABBATH IN THE DESERT.
tude, no living being near except our little company of Arabs, not knowing what might be the extent of the injury received, we felt how completely our times were in God's hand. The Arabs cheerfully erected the tent, and though the water in the skins was scarce and precious, they sprinkled some over the tent to keep it cool—for the thermometer stood at 89° in the shade. The camels couched on the sand under the burning sun, and each of the Bedouins made a little tent of his cloak and lay down beneath. We were thankful to be able to resume our journey, and proceed onwards to the next stage towards the cool of the day, intending to spend the Sabbath there. The desert now presented an unvaried circle of sand as far as the horizon, sometimes gathered into little hillocks, sometimes covered with stunted thorns, "the heath in the desert" of which Jeremiah speaks.* The sun went down in the same manner as at sea, and bright moonlight followed. Very weary we arrived at Gomatter about ten o'clock at night . A small fort, or post-house of the Pasha, and a deep well of cold water, were the only objects of interest in this desolate spot, where we pitched our tents and sought rest.
(May 26, Sabbath.) The Sabbath dawned sweetly upon us, but soon it became very hot, the thermometer being 92° in the shade. We rested in our tents, and found many of the Psalms, such as the 63d, full of new meaning and power.
Dr. Keith went up to the post-office, and finding the master very friendly, sat down with him in the shade of his house. Our Arab attendants also seated themselves beside him, while he read several passages of the Bible, Ibraim being interpreter. They listened with the utmost attention, putting in a note of approbation again and again. But in the midst of his occupation, Ibraim could not refrain from making his remarks on the Bedouins. Pointing to one man who was staring with an unmeaning countenance, he whispered, " Look, look, now, is not Bedouin-man just like donkey ?"f In the evening we invited the Governor to visit our tent, and seated him on our best carpet in the corner, the Bedouins being all gathered round the tent-door. Dr. Black was so far well as to be able to address this interesting congregation. He went over several Scripture narratives, and ended by reading part of John iii. He spoke in Italian, and Ibraim interpreted, but evidently not so willingly as
* Jer. xvii. 6. t Vide p. 77.
Alexandria, and remembered him with much interest .
When left alone we were led to meditate on that happy time when Israel shall "arise and shine," and the sons of Ishmael, the untamed wanderers of the desert, shall share in the blessing. "The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come;" "all the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee." *
(May 27.) We were up with the sun, and soon on our way. Ibraim told us that we were not many days' journey from Mount Sinai; and remarked, that the desert of Sinai (which he traversed with Dr. Robinson) is very different from that which we were now travelling, for it has trees every now and then. He described a tree very common there, of which the Bedouins make charcoal, and which grows in clusters, called Santah. May this not be the Shitta-tree, or Shittim-wood of the Scriptures If This is the extreme part of the desert of Shur, where
• Isa. lx. 6,7.
t Exod. xxv. 5, 10. Isa. xli. 19. The Dagesh in the n of nnb> (shittah) evidently points to a letter which has been dropped, which may be the «wi of Santah. By the way we asked Ibraim many questions about the names of objects round us. He pointed to onions and said the name waa "basel," which resembles very closely the Hebrew ton (batael); garlick he called loum, which is the same as the Hebrew D'Die> (shoumecm), with only a change of the sibilant. The melon is in Arabic botiach, an abbreviation of .TB2K (abatiahh). All these are mentioned together in Numb. xi. 5, "We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick."
SO DESERT OP SHUR—TAHPANHES.
In Hagar wandered.* It is still overspread with stunted bushes and shrubs; and it was no doubt under one of these that she cast her child, f The most common bush is called "atel" or "athle" "the tamarisk."
Not far from this point of the road stood in ancient days Tahpanhes, or Daphne, and Migdol, whither the rebellious remnant of Judah carried Jeremiah after the destruction of Jerusalem by the King of Babylon. J At a distance on the left, we saw ancient remains, which the men said were the ruins of a city. The infallible word of God has been fulfilled. "At Tehaphnehes (Tahpanhes) also the day shall be darkened;" "a cloud shall cover her, and her daughters shall go into captivity." } We met the Pasha's dromedary-post, travelling at the rate of six or seven miles an hour. We were told that, if he be a few hours beyond his time, he is in danger of losing his head. A little after we met some Bedouins travelling on foot. Our guides recognised them, and they kissed each other several times with great affection, reminding us of the meeting of Jacob and Esau. || Before midday we came to a resting-place called Duadahr, which means "the Warrior," and our camels kneeled down beside a fine well, out of which the water is drawn by a large wheel. This resting at wells called vividly to mind many Scripture events. Jacob found Rachel, and Moses found Zipporah at the well.1T It was by a well of water that Eliezer, Abraham's servant, "made his camels to kneel down at the time of the evening;" ** and many a time did we realize that scene.
On resuming our journey, the character of the desert was altered. Instead of a level plain, our route lay over sand-hills, with considerable valleys between. The setting-sun, casting his rays on these, had a peculiarly pleasing effect; and especially when the palm-trees adorned the heights, a mild desolate beauty was added to the landscape. We understood that we were approaching the range of desert mountains, anciently called Mount Casius. The moon rose in clear, unclouded splendour, and under its light we often seemed to be journeying over drifted snow. Late at night we reached Catieh, very weary, having spent about twelve hours on the camel's back.
* Gen. xvi. 7. t Gen. xxi. 15. t Jer. xliii. 7; xlvi. 14.
$ Ezek. xxx. 18. II Gen. xxxiii. 4. f Gen. xxix.2; Exod ii. 15.
•* Gen. xxiv. 11.
it to us. tie gave us also a quantity of salted milk, which, however, we could not drink. We afterwards visited him in return at his house, and found him seated on the ground among some of his younger servants, teaching them to read. His whole manner and appearance recalled to mind the patriarch of the desert . He inquired very kindly into Dr. Black's fall from the camel, and asked if he should order the Bedouin to be bastinadoed. When we told him that we had no such desire, and that our friend had recovered from the accident, he said that when we arrived at the first town, our friend should give something to the poor out of gratitude to God, without letting any one know. While we were thus seated with him, he had ordered his wife to bake some very nice sweet cakes, which he presented to us with coffee in truly patriarchal style. It reminded us of Sarah making cakes upon the hearth, for her three heavenly visitors.f He told us that he received from the Pasha twelve dollars a-month, sufficiency of provisions, and perquisites. His house was wretched, the floor being loose sand, but the cool shade of the stone walls was pleasant. We remembered with fresh interest the words of Isaiah, "the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."J Near this spot are two monuments raised over the graves of two Marabout Sheikhs. The bodies of dead saints are entombed within, and a shell of a building with a white cupola is erected over them; within this the friends of the departed frequently meet for prayer. These are the " whited sepulchres, which appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and
* Num. xxxiii. 22. t Gen. xviii. 6. ) Isa xxxii. 2.
82 JOURHET IN THE DESERT—"HILLS OP SEIR."
all uncleanness."* The only remnants of antiquity here are a marble pillar lying in fragments among palm-trees, ind several heaps of brick. The extensive ruins of Tel Faramah lie about three hours' journey from this station, and near to the Salt Lake. We noticed here that most of the green patches in the sand are the production of the beetle's industry. The beetle with amazing labour drags the camel's dung into its hole in the sand, and thus a fruitful soil is formed ready to receive the seeds of plants. To this small insect probably we owe the greater part of the verdure of the wilderness.
We had rested the first part of this day in order fully to recruit our strength. Towards evening we were again mounted, and bade farewell to Catieh. Our last view of our kind friend Osman Effendi was when he was kneeling upon the sand near the tombs, and praying with his face towards Mecca.
The desert was now of a more verdant character; and as we proceeded, many flocks of goats were feeding by the way, some of which had sheep mingled with them; forcibly reminding us of our Lord's parabolic account of the great day.f At present, the thoughtless and the hypocrites feed side by side with the children of God in the pastures of this world's wilderness, but the day is coming when He shall separate the righteous from the wicked, "as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats." The long curling hair of these goats was of a beautiful glossy black, showing us at once the beauty and propriety of the description in the Song, "Thy hauls as a flock of goats that appear from Mount Gilead."$
Sometimes our way was through " a salt land and not inhabited."} The face of the desert in these places was white with the incrustations of salt. This made us understand the expression, " He turneth a fruitful land into barrenness," literally " into saltness."|| After six hours' journey we encamped at Beer-el-abd, " the well of the slave," a desolate spot.
Next morning (May 29) we saw at a distance a range of hills running north and south, called by the Arabs Djebel Khalil. They form part of "the hills of Seir." After wandering so many days in the wilderness,
* Matt . xxiii. 27. t Matt . nv. 32. t Song iv. L
9 Jer. xvii. 6. || Ps. evii . 34.
it the water was tepid. When we came out, th.e salt of the water appeared on our bodies in the form of a thick crust .
Returning to our tent, we gathered specimens of the few flowers of the desert, and in our search found the ground overrun with lizards and beetles. While seated at our midday meal, a company mounted on camels came past us from another quarter of the desert. One of them rode up to us, his face scorched with the sun and his mouth parched, his only cry being, " Moie, moie," "Water, water."
Towards evening we journeyed forward through a more verdant part of the desert, cheered by the view of the distant hills, and by the chirping (for there was little song) of the little birds which, for the first time, we observed among the bushes. The moon rose upon us in glorious brightness, and late at night we pitched our tents in a place called Abugilbany.
(May 30.) In the morning, the desert was really enlivened by the chirping of birds. As a single note of a sweet song will often revive a sad heart, so it seems as if the lively notes of these birds, in a plar.e so desolate and far from the dwellings of men, were a kind arrangement of Providence in order to refresh *he weary traveller.
* Deut . iii. 25. t Paradise Lost, IS. ii
were continually bending down their long necks to crop the shrubs, especially some species which seemed peculiarly succulent. We saw in this an illustration of the description given of the wild ass, "He searcheth after every green thing." f Here, too, the sand was occasionally covered with a crust of salt, as if a salt-lake had once been there. This also is mentioned in the same passage as a feature of the scenery, " Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land (in Hebrew ' the salt place') his dwelling." %
Our guide now directed us by a road a little nearer than that by the sea-side; though much more irregular, and over endless hills of sand. We found the way to be a gradual ascent, and saw the minute correctness of the Scripture narrative, " a chariot came up and went out of Egypt." } And again, " Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness V || In like manner, when we met any travellers going the other way, they were, like Joseph's brethren, "going down to Egypt." IT Perhaps it was through this part of the desert of Shur that Hagar wandered, intending to go back to her native country;** and it may have been by this way that Joseph carried the young child Jesus when they fled into the land of Egypt.ff Even in tender infancy the sufferings of the Redeemer began, and he complains, " I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up." JJ Perhaps these scorching beams beat upon his infant brow, and this sandladen breeze dried up his infant lips, while the heat of the
• Ezck. xiii. 4. t Job xxxix. 8. t Job xxxix. 6.
$ 1 Kings x. 29. II Song viii. 5. IT Gen. xlii. 3; xlvi. 4.
•* Gen. xvi. 7. tt Matt. ii. 14. U Pa lxxxviiv 15.
How full of meaning did the word of the prophet appear, "There shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat."* And again, "A man shall be as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."f
In the afternoon, we came in sight of three wells, situated in a lonely valley. On getting near the spot, there was a general rush down the slope to reach the water. The camel-drivers ran forward to be first there, and we all followed, and even the patient camels came round the wells eager to drink. But to us, the water was Marah; we could not drink it, for it was muddy, and bitter too. We tried to get a draught by straining it through a handkerchief, but all would not avail. Thus sadly were the Israelites disappointed, for when, "they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah for they were bitter."J The Bedouins seemed to care nothing for the impurity of the water, for they drank largely and greedily. We imagined that thus eagerly Israel rushed forward to the clear, cool waters of the Smitten Rock. }
We now passed over a sandy soil, in which small shells abounded, and occasionally heaps of stones that appeared to be ruins of ancient buildings. In these stones also small shells were imbedded. It was near this that Ostrarine once stood, an ancient town, so called|| from the circumstance of the shells found in the soil. The setting sun was pouring its last rays upon the bare and desolate sand-hills, as if in vain attempting to clothe them with beauty, when we came in sight of El Arish, the frontier town between Syria and Egypt, the spot we had so * I«a. iv. 6. t Isa. xxxii. 2. t Exod. xv. 23 .
$ Exod xvii. 6. II From Hnpamv a shell.
86 ARRIVAL AT EL ARISH.
anxiously desired to reach before any quarantine should be established to delay our progress. We passed the remains of an old city, the foundations of which we could distinctly trace, though half-buried in the sand. This we supposed to be the ancient Bhinocolura. In a little while after, our camels knelt down outside the gate of the small town of El Arish. We encamped under a tree, with a cluster of palms near, and not far from the burying-ground on the N. W. of the town, and on the road to Gaza. The town is situated on the gentle slope of a sand-hill about two miles from the sea. The castle, a square building, not very formidable to an enemy, stands on the highest part, and the houses, dingy, monotonouslooking buildings, with flat roofs and scarcely any windows, slope down from it. The population of the town cannot be more than 600 inhabitants, many of whom were enjoying the cool breeze of evening on the roofs of their houses. The quarantine established here for all who come from Syria going down into Egypt, prevents the increase of traffic, people being unwilling to come to it from Syria, since they must tarry so long in the Lazaretto near its walls. We were told that, at one time, 121 Arish was surrounded with beautiful gardens, but these have been completely covered by the desolating sand, and now the only remains of fertility is a grove of young palms which shelter the eastern side of the town. We were rejoiced to find that the quarantine was not yet established for those going to Syria, so that we had attained the object of our journey through the desert . This was a new and special call upon us to give thanks and praise, especially now when we were in sight of the Promised Land, and our eyes rested on some of the hills given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
We were outside the wall, but we heard the call to prayer from the Mosque, whose minaret rises conspicuous above the common dwellings. The cry of the Muezzin was louder that evening, and more prolonged, because it was Thursday, the commencement of the Mahometan Sabbath. The Mahometans begin their Sabbath, like the Jews, at six o'clock in the evening, and Friday is the day which they keep sacred. The call to prayer is certainly one of the most solemn and affecting parts of their worship; but the Mahometans themselves seem not at all affected by it. Indeed, their whole religious services appear to be empty forms, all voice and gesture, and no feeling.
suade them to carry us farther. In this dilemma the Governor of the town sent us word that he would come and visit our tent . There is a degree of real authority suggested by the dress and air and attendants of such a man. He came riding upon a cream-coloured Arab horse, small but fleet, with silvery mane, flowing tail, and rich caparisons. His attendants rode by his side, and even they assumed an air of importance with their ornamented girdles, crooked scimitars, and elegant eastem attire. Their favourite feat of horsemanship was to gallop at full speed along the sand or among the palms, and then suddenly to draw the rein and stop, making the sand fly in all directions. When the Governor was fairly seated in the corner of our carpet, he evidently wished to shew his authority and importance, and to get money from us by pretending causes of delay; but after much arguing and annoyance, he at last agreed to arrange with the camel-driver who had brought us thus far, to take us to Gaza for 600 piastres (about £6 Sterling)—a price double what ought to have been charged, but demanded at present as necessary to remunerate the men who would be kept in quarantine on their return. Part of the price was accordingly paid into the Governor's hand, and the interview ended. He afterwards sent us a jar of cold water as a present; for " a cup of cold water only"* is a real gift in this country.
• Afatt. x. 42.
understand better how they were so much discouraged because of the way, and how they were so often tempted to murmur against God.
How great a blessing "the pillar of the cloud" must have been! Towering over the camp, it cast a delightful shadow upon the sand over which they moved. But still more, what a gracious pledge it was that their heavenly Guide would lead them in the right way to the place of rest.
Now, too, we were taught the meaning of " dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob." * Such a life is one of constant dependence and faith. In the morning when the tent is struck, the traveller never knows where he is to pitch it at noon or evening; whether it is to be beside the palm and springs of water, or in solitude and sand. The description of the joyful state of the redeemed given in the Apocalypse, f seems to be formed in reference to such a life as this. There shall be no more hunger, thirst, nor burning sun, but green shady pastures and living fountains of water, and the Lamb shall dwell as in a tent J among them. And all this because they have reached the promised inheritance ;—their desert life has ended, and the Promised Land begun.
We noticed that when camels are sent out to feed they often stray over a wide surface. At the place where we now were, the reason alleged for keeping us till next day was that the camels had been sent out to feed and could
Hcb. xi. 9. t Rev. vii. 16, 17. t mnwunc
The heat having abated, we wandered towards the town. We observed two very deep wells, arched over to keep out the sun and the sand. Two marble columns were built into one of them, and broken pieces of marble pillars of the Doric order were lying scattered in various places near the town. To the east a kind of garden, surrounded with a hedge of prickly pear, and planted with palms, aloes, and melons, seemed to struggle with the sand for existence. In the town several women in the streets wore the anklet, "the tinkling ornament about their feet."} We heard its sound as we passed along. Most of their children had their heads adorned with pieces of money. The Effendi's child was carried at the side, having six or eight gold coins, called harieh, strung together round the front of its cap. Most of the houses are built completely of mud. At present they are as hard and as dry as stone, but we could readily imagine how easily the overflowing shower would destroy them, and the stormy wind rend the wall.|| The roofs of the houses are all flat, and communicate with one another. Often they are made of the branches of the palm and other trees, with the leaves remaining on them, and coated over with mud. If the house mentioned by Marklf had a roof of this description, how easy it would be to break it up. In the court of one of the houses (for every house, however
90 EL AR1BH—ARAB OVEN.
humble, has its court,*) we examined the Arab oven, a rude and simple contrivance. It is made of clay like their houses, quite dry and hard. The lower aperture is to admit the fire, a few cinders of
charcoal, or some heated | stones. Over the fire there is a floor of clay, where the dough is fired. The upper aperture is for .','. .* putting in the dough when 5; it has been kneaded and *divided into cakes. The roof of the whole, surrounded by a parapet, affords a convenient place for the bread gradually to cool. The kneading trough is a large wooden bowl, not unlike that used in our own country. In the middle of the town there is a very fine well, the water of which is drawn up by a wheel. We drank freely for the first time since entering the desert. No one who has not wandered in arid regions, can imagine the delight which cold water gives to a thirsty soul.f Toward sunset, two of our number crossed the hills of sand which enclose El Arish, till we came to the ancient bed of a broad river, about half a mile east of the town. The channel is about two hundred yards in breadth, distinctly marked by banks on either side. The bed was perfectly flat and dry: but in other days, when Judah's rivers flowed with water, it must have been a majestic stream, not unworthy to form the boundary of the land, if indeed (which is doubtful) this was " the river of Egypt" so often referred to as the limit of Israel on the south.J A little way further inward, the channel seemed to be filled up by sand drifted from the hills: but from the spot where we were, down to the sea, a distance of two miles, we could distinctly trace its ancient course. We stretched ourselves under one of the bushes that still overhang its banks, and remembering with gratitude that we were now within the border of the Promised Land, united in prayer for Israel, our Church, our distant flocks, and our own souls. We then wandered homewards, that is, to our tents—our only home in this strange land. The hills of El Khalil were full in sight, and toward the sea the Lazaretto attracted our notice by the * 2 Sam. xvii. l8 . t Prov. xxv. 25. t Gen. xv. l8 .
Ill a J,u Ul w*ut-i, iM>ni wini^u an in LLllll UlallK yTCCUIiy.
On the wall were slates of tin with Arabic traced upon them.
This being Saturday, we remembered in looking across the bed of the ancient river, that on the other side in former days, Israel would have been keeping their Sabbath, and Egypt would hear the praises of Jehovah floating across the stream.
Entering the Fort, we examined an old trough of very hard granite, quite covered with Arabic writing, well engraved. At midday, we went to the gate to enjoy the coolness. The arched roof affords a complete shade at all times, and often a pleasant breeze passes through. Under such a gateway probably Lot was seated, for coolness' sake, when the angels came to Sodom ;* and for the same reason, the people of old used to resort to it, and it became the market-place, f We saw how the gate became the seat of judgment,J when a little after the Governor and his Effendi appeared. His attendants having spread a mat and a carpet over it, and a cushion at each corner, he took his seat, inviting us to recline near him. We took off our shoes and sat down. Our conversation was very limited, as Ibraim was not with us to interpret, but we partook of coffee together, served up in little cups, which are every where in use. The Governor was interrogating a native Christian who stood by. This man was a Christian Copt. He told us in broken Italian that he was rejoiced to meet us, because, beinir almost the only Christian in the place, he is much
• Gen. xix. 1. t Ruth iv. 1, 11. Ps. lxix. 12. Jer. xvii. 19.
t Job v. 4. Jer. xxxviii. 7; xxxix. 3. Amos v. 15. Matt . xvi. 1a
show their anxiety to keep a Deiovea omect ever in mind. There is no doubt a reference to this custom in the beautiful words, "Behold 1 have graven thee on the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me ;"f and also when it is said, " Another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord," or more literally, "Another shall write upon his hand, To the Lord,"l— words intended to express the complete surrender which a believer makes of soul and body to the Lord who bought him.
This day we experienced the effect of the wind raising the sand. The wind was not remarkably strong, but the sand was so fine that it penetrated every where. No tent nor portmanteau could shut it out. Our clothes, our food, the water we drank, all were filled with sand. At length eight camels arrived. We joyfully struck our tents, and were conveyed to the Lazaretto close by the shore.
In our way down we passed the rude booths of palmbranches which we had elsewhere seen, and heard the sound of the mill-stone, coming from one of them, it being now near sunset, the time for the evening meal. In the dry channel of the river many fine palm-trees were growing, and several luxuriant plants, cultivated in holes dug for the purpose. Several gardens also were laid out with small canals intersecting them, so
* Ezek. ix. 2. t Isa- xl«- 16.
1 Isa. xliv. 5. nvnS n» aw
swifter, and quicker in its motions; but the Arabian camel and dromedary have both only one hump, though the camel of Bactria and other regions is said to have two. One of our camels had a young one running by its side. Under the conduct of Mustapha—another Bedouin with fine Eastern features—Mahommed, and a boy, we proceeded across the bed of the river, and ascended the opposite bank, entering with joy the Land of Israel. The country was now very different from the desert. A range of low sand-hills lay between us and the seashore, ready to fulfil God's work of desolation on the land within; but the valley through which we were passing had verdure and pasturage, and opened into other valleys of the same character. The ground was full of holes, which we were told were made by the jerboas. Darkness soon came on, and we rested a short time at the command of our Bedouin, who wished to feed his camels. We kindled a blazing fire in the manner of the Bedouins, whose fires we saw in several places round about us. The moon rose most splendidly as we proceeded, and the birds in the bushes round about began to twitter and sing, as if mistaking the bright moon for the rising sun. Though much oppressed with sleepiness, and often in danger of falling from the camel's back, yet the pleasantness of the air, the change of scenery, and the knowledge that we were now traversing the portion of the tribe of Simeon, made our journey comparatively' easy. We arrived at Sheikh Jnide, once a village, now only a station and a burying-place, marked by the white
• Q'D >&D Ps. i. 3. Also Prov. xxl 1.
94 STATION OP SHEIKH JU1UE.
tomb of a Mahometan saint. It has a good well, some fields of tobacco, and several palm-trees. We pitched our tent under a nabbok-tree, resembling a plane-tree, and felt how naturally it is recorded, "Deborah dwelt under the palm-tree," * "Saul tarried under a pomegranate-tree ;"f and of Abraham, who had received the three angels into his tent, that "he stood by them under the tree."]: We spread our mats and fell asleep, thinking over the Promised Land, and how in some part of this very country, God had said to Jacob, as he was stretched out for rest with a stone for his pillow, " The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it."}
(June 2, Sabbath.) Awaking, we felt the solemnity and privilege of spending a Sabbath-day in the land of Israel. We had worship together in the tent, and sang with joyful hearts,
"In Judah's land God is well known,
J1 is name's in Israel great," &c.||
With what appropriateness we could look round on every plain and hill within our view and say,
"There arrows of the bow He brake!
The sword, the shield, the war—
More glorious thou than hills of prey.
More excellent art far."
We had leisure to meditate on those portions of Scripture that peculiarly refer to God's wonders done here. Between us and the range of hills to the east, we had reason to believe, lay the valley of Gerar, the valley where Abraham dwelt,IT the land where Isaac sowed, and received in the same year an hundred-fold, and where he digged so many wells.** In this region, too, the Avims dwelt till they were destroyed by "the Caphtorims out of Caphtor,"ff the ancestors of the Philistines, who in turn yielded to Judah and Simeon. This is the highway down into Egypt; so that by it the Ishmaelites would carry youthful Joseph into Egypt, with their camels bearing spicery, and balm, and myrrh,J( and by this way Jacob would come down with the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him.}} This tract was in the portion of Simeon. Seventeen cities with their tillages are recorded as belonging to it.|||| But, where It was pleasant to think of Isaac and his herdraen having wandered here. We came upon an immense colony of ants, all busily employed. They had made a highway from their dwelling of about forty yards in length, and this was literally covered with a black dotted line of these moving insects. Those going out carried nothing, but hurried along with great'speed. Those returning carried a seed or piece of straw. Another band were employed in carrying out a grain of the soil from the camp, making room for the new supply. The Arabs call them by the Hebrew term nimla. We read over Proverbs vi. 6-11; and thus got a Sabbath lesson applied with power even in the wilderness—a lesson of constant untiring diligence in the work of the Lord. We prayed together, feeling that the land was fitted to make us ask much, for from these heavens the Holy Spirit had descended on many a prophet and many a saint. May such men be raised in our day, and Israel be so blessed again, and the same Spirit who visited them visit our land! The evening closed calmly round us in our tents. (June 3.) We left Sheikh Juide before 6 A. M., pleasant clouds veiling the sun. Our course lay northward on the road to Gaza. The same low sand-hills were still between us and the sea, but there was considerable verdure on the undulating plains through which we passed. The road is not like a king's highway with us, made be
* Judges iv. 5. t 1 Sam. xiv. 2. t Gen. xviii. 8.
$ Geri. xxviii. 13. II Ps. lxxvi. 1. TGen. xx. 1.
** Gen. xxvi. 12, 18. tt Deut. ii. 23. t) Gen. xxxvii. 25,88.
W Gen. xlvi. 1. 11,1 Josh. xix. 1—9.
• Jcr. xlvii. 6, 7.
mingling with eacii other, in a Dreadtn 01 thirty or iony yards. Verdure and wild genista often occurred between the paths, so that the camels were frequently bending their long necks to feed as we journeyed. We notice this, because it seems to illustrate the description of wisdom in Proverbs, " She standeth by the way in the places of the paths* Hence also the expression. "Hold up my goings in thy paths ;"f and in the 23d Psalm, "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness;" J arid the declaration, "Broad is the way which leadeth to destruction," j hints at its many paths. The country we passed through this day was a light pasture land, with plains and straths of vast extent. We observed all the animals mentioned in Scripture || as belonging to the original inhabitants,—sheep, oxen, asses, anil camels. In some places the divisions of the fields were marked out; a bunch of broom tied up formed the landmark. Some fields had been ploughed in a very slight manner. These signs of approaching cultivation were pleasant as we came up from the wilderness.
Our guides pointed out the site of Rnplia, the ancient Raphia, on our left near the sea, hid from our view by mounds of sand.
At midday we arrived at Khanounes, the ancient Jenysits;—its Scripture name is unknown. We had expected to find rest and refreshment here, but a complete hurricane of wind blew the small dry sand full in our faces for about an hour. It was vain to attempt putting up the tent, so that we were forced to shelter ourselves sors, and this is one of the commonest productions of the Holy Land, showing that it has become the.heritage of the heathen, who sow Israel's fields. The houses were as substantial as mud-brick walls can be supposed to be. The old fort seemed to be a place of distinction, having a long inscription in Arabic round the interior of the porch. The bazaar consisted of a small row of wretched shops; whose owners were squatted each before his door, smoking his pipe, and selling barley, beans, apricots, cucumbers, raisins, charcoal, pipes, and a few trinkets. We sat down in the shade, and all the inhabitants, young and old, gathered round; but unable to speak their language, we could only minister kindness to them, allowing them to examine our veils, straw-hats, and watches, which were subjects of endless wonder. One man wore two or three beads pendant from his forehead. He said it was a charm to keep his eyes from blindness. Another came with a diseased neck, to which he pointed in silence with his finger, intimating that he desired to be healed. This brought Jesus and his wonders of mercy to mind in a most affecting manner. We assured him that we had no gift of healing. Meanwhile Ibraim had searched the town to find substantial provisions, but in vain; he could not even procure a cake of bread. We were offered unground barley, which a native could have used without much trouble by means of the hand-mill; for we learned by experience that it is the custom in the East to grind morning and evening just as much as serves for daily use. Hence the necessity of the law, "No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to * Isa. xxxii 2. t Isa. xxv. 1.
* Prov. viii. 2. t Ps- xvii. 5. } Ps. xxiii. 3.
i Matt. vii. 13 II 1 Sam. xxvii. 9.
VS VILLAGE OP BENNISHA.IL.
pledge, for he taketh a man's life to pledge." * We learned also that this country is not now what it once was, "a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, and not lack any thing in it."f In the market the people were using stones instead of regular weights, according to the ancient mode.J The writer's inkhorn was worn by two or three at the bazaar. At the entrance of the town stands the chief object of interest, the public well, at which we drank large and refreshing draughts of delightful water. A camel turned the wheel, and the water was brought up in small earthen jars, which emptied themselves into a trough. This is called the Persian wheel. The well is evidently the rendezvous for idlers, gazers, and talkers, and as much a place of public resort as the market. Old and young, cattle and camels, were gathered thither. The coolness of the spot, and the prospect of meeting others, no doubt induce many to take their seat by the well's side. A little way out of the town was the burying-ground. Some men were digging a grave. One man dug with a pick-axe, then took a basket and with his hands scraped into it the earth he had loosened, and handed up the basket to those above. At the same place, one of our attendants was met by an old acquaintance, a Bedouin. They saluted each other kindly, kissing three times.
After partaking of some rice and ripe apricots, we resumed our journey about six o'clock in the evening. The camels moved on through a very level and broad plain, which retained more of its grassy verdure than any we had yet passed through. The descending sun shone mildly, the stormy wind had fallen, many" flocks were browsing on each side of the road, and there was reviving freshness in the evening breeze. About half an hour N. E.
ROAD TO OAZA SYCAMORES. 99
from Khanounes is a small village called Bennishail, built apparently of mud bricks, but embosomed in trees, among which a solitary palm raised its head. The name of the town is taken from the Arabic name of one of the constellations. It stands upon the summit of a rising ground, and the channel of a stream, which at one time had watered its gardens, but is now dry, can be plainly traced. It may occupy the place of some of Simeon's cities, " Hazar-Susah," or " Baalath-beer, Ramath of the south." * Some, indeed, have supposed Khanounes to be ** Ramath of the south" but the word " Ramath" means "high ground," a name which could not apply to Khanounes, but would suit well the situation of this pleasant village, for the towers (Ramolh) on that slope would glance beautifully in the setting sun, even as do now its tigs and solitary palm. The birds were singing very sweetly. Many old and verdant sycamores, with gnarled trunks and branches spreading out toward the east,
adorned the plain. If the sycamore of Zaccheus was like these, we see how easily he could climb it, and how ssselr be could lie upon its branches, and see Jesus passing beneath.* The height of it, also, (for it is among the highest trees in Palestine,) may have afforded another reason for his choice. It is said of Solomon, that " he made cedars to be us the sycamore-trees that are in the vale for abundance,"J which shows that in his day the sycamore grew in Great plenty, probably in this very plain along the Mediterranean. At present they are far from being abundant . Indeed, trees of any kind are
• JoiU. xix. 8 t Luke xix. 1-4. t 1 Kings x. 27.
"And the sea-coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds and folds for flocks."} A little after we heard for the first time the loud painful cry of the wolf not far off. Passing up a gentle ascent, there was a village on our left, called Dair or Adair, conjectured by some to be the Adar of Scripture,} but as darkness had come down upon us, we could only hear the barking of its dogs.
We had already crossed the dry beds of two torrents, and now came to a third, broader than any of the rest, but quite as dry, called Wady Saiga. Perhaps this may be the brook Besor, memorable in the history of David,|| as the place where 200 of his valiant men remained behind when he pursued the Amalekites. In comparing the narrative of that pursuit with the features of the country, there are minute coincidences worthy to be observed. The young Egyptian said to David, "I will bring thee down to this company."1T The reference here is evidently to those gentle ascents up which we were travelling. David and his men were coming from the north, hence it is truly said that they were "brought down." Again, it is said of the Amalekites, " Behold they were spread abroad upon all the earth." ** They were scattered over those open fields and plains, carelessly enjoying themselves. Some hours after we crossed another bed of a river, which the Arabs called Wady Gaza. The banks were steep and the channel broad at the point where we crossed. When we met with so that we had not a firman from the Pasha of Egypt, in which case he could have compelled the men to carry us forward. This was almost the only instance where we had any reason to regret the want of a firman. As it was, the Governor, finding that we had no other hope of getting away, took it upon him to command the cameldriver to arrange with us and go forward next morning. Meanwhile, we wandered over the sand-hills on which we had pitched our tents, that we might view the town and adjoining country. Beneath us on the north-west lay the high road to Gaza, the same as in ancient days, but lonely and still, except when the shepherds and their flocks passed by. "The earth mourneth and fadeth away, few men are left."f Whether the Ethiopian eunuch had come thus far or not, it was this tract of road he was traversing: and it may have been, while his chariot moved heavily and noiselessly over these sands, that Philip had the opportunity of running up to him, and speaking the words of eternal life.J We sat down on the northern extremity of the mounds of sand, a spot which beautifully overlooks the modern town of Gaza. The evening sun shone sweetly through the beautiful gardens, fine old fies and sycamores, and curious hedges of prickly pear. The minarets and other buildings rose above the trees, and we listened with delight to the soft
* Rosenmuellcr supposes that the rareness of this tree may be accounted for. It produces turpentine; and if incisions are not made during summer in its bark, the resinous matter accumulates, swells the bark, cracks the stem, and then exudes in such quantity that the tree is often destroyed. t Joel i. 12. t Zcph. ii. 6. $ Josh. rv. 3.
II 1 Sam. xxx. 10. 1 1 Sam. xxx. 15. *• lb. verse 16.
* I's. cxxvi. 4. Josh. Xt. 19. t ln. xxiv. 4, 6. t Acts viii. 26,
102 GAZA—VIEW OP THE COUNTRY.
voice of the turtle heard in the land, and the voices of the little children at play. We were told that there are about 3000 inhabitants, though others say above 10,000.
Whilst we gazed upon this peaceful scene, we felt it hard to think that this was a land on which God was "laying his vengeance." * It appeared at first as if there had been no fulfilment of those distinct predictions, "Gaza shall be forsaken,"f and " baldness has come upon Gaza."J But when we had completed our investigation, we found that not one word had fallen to the ground.
We separated in order to obtain different views of this interesting spot. Dr. Black remained to examine more fully the hills of sand. Dr. Keith took the direction of the sea, which is about three miles distant from the modern town, starting the idea, that in all probability these heaps of sand were covering the ruins of ancient Gaza. The ancient town occupied a site much nearer the sea. The rest of us took the direction of the most prominent hill in the landscape lying N. E., and overhanging the modern town. Crossing a wady quite dry, we climbed the hill, which is less than 100 feet high. Wild thyme is the chief plant upon it, loading the air with fragrance, and a torrent forces its way down a ravine in winter. The top is ornamented with the white tomb of a Mahometan saint. The evening was uncommonly sweet, and the birds were singing among the olive and fig-trees in the gardens that stretch from the town to the base of the mount . From this point, the town appeared much poorer and more wretched than we had supposed. The flatroofed huts without windows seemed to be all of mud. The four mosques, the ruins of an ancient church, and other edifices among the beautiful trees, were the chief ornaments. Looking to the east, we enjoyed a pleasant view of the undulating pasture-land, not unlike some parts of Dumfriesshire; while to the north, gardens and olive groves were stretched out as far as what we thought might be the valley of Eshcol. As we stood among .ombs on the top of the mount, we concluded that this was the hill to the top of which Samson carried the gates of Gaza, the two posts, the bar and all,} a monument of triumph in view of the whole city, whom, as leader of Israel, he had baffled even at the time when his own sins hung heavy upon him. Although it is not high, yet from its top you may see the heights that overhang Hebron,
* Ezek. xxv. 17. t Zeph. ii. 4.
t Jer. xlvii. 5. $ Juug xvi. 3.
able. This barren, bare hill of sand is the bald head of Gaza.} How awfully true and faithful are the words of God!
All along the coast of Philistia, we had seen how accurately these words are fulfilled," I will stretch out mine hand upon the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethims, and destroy the remnant of the sea-coasts," || there being now none of all those ancient warriors that used to issue from these coasts and penetrate into the heart of Judah. We saw also the fulfilment of this word, "The king shall perish from Gaza," U a paltry governor being now its ruler, not engaged in affairs of state, but in helping travellers to find camels for their journey. We were much struck likewise by observing how truly "the sea-coast had become dwellings and cottages for shepherds and folds for flocks," ** for few of the fields are cultivated, and the hills and vales are so completely pastoral, that from one rising ground we counted ten large flocks and herds. One prophecy, however, regarding this region remains yet to be fulfilled, "The coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon
• Judg. xr. 17. t Amos i. 7. t Jer. xlvii. 5.
i See Dr. Keith's remarks made on the spot, at p. 253 of his Evidence of Prophecy, 23d edition. II Kzek. xxv. 16. f Zech. ii 5. "Zeph. ii- 6.
Kedar." J The tents of the Bedouins are of a darkbrown colour, made of goat's hair, and rudely stretched on four poles. How striking the contrast between these and " the curtains of Solomon !"—the splendid hangings of his pavilion, which were no doubt like those of Aliasuerus, " white, green, and blue, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple, to silver rings and pillars of marble." } In one of the Arab huts the inmates were grinding at the mill, and we helped them to move round the upper millstone. Again, we came upon an Arab cottage, made of branches of trees, and found the whole family seated on the sand before the door. After the usual salaam, they gave us bread warm from their oven, with a look of great kindness, and refused to take any money in return. In one field, the men were ploughing with oxen. In another under the hill, they were winnowing barley, casting it up to the wind with a sort of wooden shovel or fan. The corn lay in heaps not bound in sheaves.
Returning in the evening through fields of melons, we disturbed "the keepers of a field," the same as those mentioned by the prophet. || A rude shed made of four upright poles, that supported a covering of twined branches, protected from the weather an old decrepit Arab, who sat watching against any intrusion that might be made by man or beast upon his field. In passing through a large flock of sheep, we remarked how familiar they appeared to be with the shepherd, showing no signs of timidity at his closest approach. Their large heavy tails are also very remarkable. These are chiefly composed of fat, and are particularly referred to in the Mo
• Zeph. ii. 7. t Matt . x. 42. } Song i. 5.
J Eith. i. 6. II Jer. iv. 17.
prickly pear, enclosing luxuriant gardens." In these no care seems to be bestowed upon flowers, but pomegranate, fig, and olive-trees flourished abundantly. Occasionally we noticed a fig-tree up which a vine had climbed, so that the combined shade "of their vine and fig-tree " f might here be enjoyed together. Several of the houses in the town had tents erected on their flat roofs; which we supposed might be especially intended at present to avoid the infection of the plague. A burying-ground a little way from the gate had lamps suspended over several of its tombs.
We then entered upon the Grove of Olives, which is laid down in maps. The public road passed through it for about three miles. The trees appear to have been planted at regular distances,—handsome trees with pleasant shade, reminding the traveller of the days of Philistia's glory. We met many peasants, some riding on asses, some on foot, carrying into town vegetables and fruits. Several women carried baskets of mulberries on their heads. The Bedouins brought us some Of these, and we found them much better than those we got in Egypt. On either side of the road, the ground is covered with verdure, so that the grove is not unlike some nobleman's domain. The constant chirping of the
frasshoppers, though monotonous, was not unpleasant, 'here is something strongly indicative of health and vigour in the fresh look of a flourishing olive-tree, but especially when a grove of them is seen together, and
* Exod. xxi.t. 22. Lev. iii. 9 t Mic. iv. 4.
over all, like the Sun of righteousness shining over his peaceful Church!
On emerging from this pleasant grove, the country opens out into a fine plain. In the fields all the operations of harvest seemed to be going on at the same time. Some were cutting down the barley, for it was the time of barley-harvest, with a reaping-hook not unlike our own, but all of iron, and longer in the handle and smaller in the hook. Others were gathering what was cut down into sheaves. Many were gleaning; and some were employed in carrying home what had been cut and gathered. We met four camels heavily laden with ripe sheaves, each camel having bells of a different note suspended from its neck, which sounded cheerfully as they moved slowly on. Perhaps those bells may be a remnant of the "joy in harvest,"} though this is not the only time when they are used. The practice appears to have been very common in the days of Zechariah, for he makes use of the expression, "On the bells of the horses shall be, Holiness to the Lord," [| to indicate the holiness that shall pervade the land, descending to the minutest and most ordinary movements of life. The barley on the plain seemed good, but the crop amazingly thin, and the rank weeds so abundant, that asses and other cattle were feeding on the part of the field that had been newly cut.
Bet-hanoon, a small village on the right hand, is the first object of interest in this plain. It is composed of brown square huts standing on a rising ground, and sur
• Hosea xiv. 6. t Jer. xi. 16. t Ps. lii. &
laa.ix. 3. II Zech.xiv.20.
dustry of man and the blessing of God! About a mile further on we crossed by a bridge another deep and narrow channel, called by the Arabs Wady Djezed, which runs to the sea, and which we conjectured to be the brook Sorek. Although some fix the position of Eshcol nearer Hebron, yet there seems good reason to think that this open vale through which we passed is the true valley of Eshcol, where the spies cut down a cluster of grapes so large that they bare it between them upon a start".* It is easy to imagine that this spacious valley, stretching nearly north and south for many miles, and bordered on either side by gently sloping hills, would form in other days one splendid vineyard, fertile in its soil, and watered by pleasant brooks. Where are its vines now? Vast fields of barley meet the eye; but we saw not a single vine. God seems to have chosen this spot the more strikingly to draw attention to the fulfilment of another of his predictions, "I will destroy her vines and her fig-trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards which my lovers have given me."f "I will take away my wine in the season thereof."J We afterwards found a few fig-trees, but still not a single vine, in all this valley that once obtained its name from its ripe clusters of grapes. This is only one instance out of a thousand of the manner in which God has bereaved Israel of their plentiful fruits in token of his wrath. Every traveller can bear witness, that over the whole land the
* Num. xiii. 23 . t IIos. ii. 12. t lb. verse 9
108 VALLEY OP ES1ICOL—DESOLATE VILLAGES.
words of Joel are fulfilled, " The vine is dried up and the fig-tree languisheth, the pomegranate-tree, the palm-tree also, and the apple-tree; even all the trees of the field are withered."* The fact of the Turks and Saracens being by their religion opposed to wine, was no doubt one of the chief means in the hands of God to prevent the cultivation of the vine in the land. With what certainty may we anticipate the reversing of the judgment, which the same word has promised, "I will give her her vineyards from thence."f "And the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt."J About noon we encamped at'the village of Deir-esnait. Our guides remarked that "deir" means a convent, or some such building. We could, however, find no trace of any ancient building; the houses are all plastered with mud; and the village is surrounded by trees. As we approached, one of the camel-drivers, pointing to a cluster of six large fig-trees, cried out, " Tacht et-teen," "under the fig-tree?" And soon we felt the pleasantness of this shade; for there is something peculiarly delightful in the shade of the fig-tree. It is far superior to the shelter of a tent, and perhaps even to the shadow of a rock; since not only does the mass of heavy foliage completely exclude the rays of the sun, but the traveller finds under it a peculiar coolness, arising from the air gently creeping through the branches. Hence the force of the Scripture expression, "When thou wast under the fig-tree;"} and the prophecy, "In that day shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig-tree."||—Restored and happy Israel shall invite one another to sit down beneath their embowering shade to recount the glorious acts of the Lord.
Reclining under these six fig-trees we enjoyed a short repose, the servants and camels being all gathered round us under the same grateful shade. These immense trees show plainly that the substantial fertility of the soil is still remaining, but they are almost the only remnants of Eshcol's luxuriance. A small village was in sight to the right, called Dimreh, its mud-plastered houses halfconcealed by verdant trees. None of the villages we had seen would contain above fifty souls, some not so many, and yet these are spots where Judah and Israel used to be " many as the sand which is by the sea in multitude."1T But now Isaiah's words are verified, "The
* Joel i. 12. t Hoa ii. 15 t Amos a. 13.
§ John i. 48. II Zcch. iii 10. T 1 Kiiiga iv. 20.
herds were seen spreading through the undulating valleys. In one place we saw many of them gathered together under a shady tree, waiting till the excessive heat of noon should be abated. At other times, the shepherds
Cther the flocks beside a well, as we afterwards saw at bonah, where many hundreds were lying down around the well's mouth. We remembered the words of the Song, " Tell me, O thou whom my sou] loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon."f The sight of these flocks reclining beneath the shady trees suggested the true meaning of another passage, " I will raise up for them a plant of renown."\ This plant is some noble shady tree where the flock may find rest and shelter—a wide-spreading covert, renowned for its coolness, under whose protecting branches they shall feed, and be " no more consumed with hunger." The great Redeemer is thus represented as giving to his own flock first shelter from burning wrath, and then peace to feed in plenty when they are delivered. When shall Israel come to this Plant of renown?
After gathering some of the wild flowers and seeds of shrubs, as memorials of the hills of Philistia—among others, seeds of the Poterium spinosum,—we returned to the encampment through fields where some were cutting down the barley, and others gleaning behind them, like Ruth in the fields of Boaz, not far off; while the feet of oxen were treading out what had been cut. In the vil
• Isa. vi. 11, 12. t Song i. 7.
t Ezek. xxxiv. 29. See the whole context, where Israel is compared to a flock of sheep.
110 BEDOUIN MODE OP SALUTATION.
lage " the sound of the millstone" met our ears, proceeding from several of the huts. It is a clear ringing sound, conveying an idea of peace and cheerfulness, and is more than once spoken of in Scripture.* In the court-yardof one house, the grinders accompanied their occupation with a song.f Before leaving the poor villagers, we partook of the first fruits of the land in the shape of fine ripe apricots, and drank a little of their "Hemat" or "Leban-hemat," a kind of sour milk, which is very cooling and pleasant when well prepared. It was this which Jael gave to Sisera.J—" She brought forth butter in a lordly dish ;" the word in the original being the same as that now applied by the Arabs to this simple beverage. It is made by putting milk into an earthen jar, and letting it stand for a day. "The taste is not unlike that of butter-milk, cool and most refreshing to a weary man oppressed with heat. The Arabs say " it makes a sick man well."
Leaving this pleasant spot about half-past four, we proceeded northward through the plain, crossing the dry channel of a former brook named Wady-el-Abd. There were many fields of tobacco, barley, and dhura, and clusters of silvery olives, to relieve the eye. The dhura is a species of millet or Indian corn; it grows very rank and strong, bears a heavy crop, and is often roasted and eaten unground. One stalk sometimes furnishes a meal to a native. Perhaps this may have been "the parched corn" which Boaz gave to Ruth,} and David carried to his brethren.|| An incidental occurrence here showed us the meaning of Elisha's command to his servant Gehazi, to salute no man by the way.IT A Bedouin acquaintance of one of our camel-drivers, meeting him on the road, the two friends occupied no small time in salutation. They kissed each other five times on the cheek, holding the hand at the same time; then asked three or four questions at each other, and not till this was done, did they resume their journey. If Gehazi, a man so well known, had done this to every one he met, he would not have reached Carmel before his master.
In less than an hour we came to Bet-Car, a small place, composed of one square of houses for villagers and their Wady Rousad, we came to Doulis, a considerable village, placed upon a rock, and overlooking the open vale through which we had travelled. It stands on the left of the road, and is four hours distant from our last station. Here we encamped for the night. While the servants were pitching the tents, we wandered through the place, and sitting down by the well, observed the women come to draw water. The well is very deep, and the mode of drawing up the water curious. A rope is attached by one end to a large bucket, made of skin, and let down over a pulley; while the other end is attached to a bullock, which is driven down the slope of the hill; the skin of water is thus hauled up to the top, where a man stands ready to empty it into the trough, from which women receive the water in earthen - ware jugs. To us this was a novel and amusing sight.
* Jer. xxv. 10. Rev. xviii. 22.
t Perhaps this may be alluded to in Eccles. xii. 4, " The found of the grinding is low." 1 Judg. v 25. nKDn See also Job xxix. 6. § Ruth ii. 14.
II 1 Sam xvii, 17. % % Kings iv. 29. Also Luke x. 4.
closures, we couia not look upon tnese "ioias lor flocks," so closely adjoining the "dwellings and cottages for shepherds," and this in the very region anciently called "the sea-coast," without expressing to one another our admiration at the manner in which God had brought about the fulfilment of the prophecy already more than once alluded to, "The sea-coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks." f »
One man kindly invited us to enter his cottage, and sit down on his carpet. He showed us the key commonly used for the door, which is nothing more than a piece of wood with pegs fastened in it, corresponding to small holes in a wooden bolt within. It is put through a hole in the door, and draws the bolt in a very simple manner. It is generally carried in the girdle; though sometimes we were told it is tied to something else, and worn over the shoulder in the way spokenof by the prophet, "The key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder." J The large opening through which the key is introduced, illustrates these words in the Song, "My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door."; It is possible that Doulis may be the remains of Eshlaol, one of the cities of Dan, mentioned in the life of Samson.|| Its situation upon a rock, the deep well, and the pits, all show that it is an ancient place; and the ancient name may be concealed under the modern form.
On the way to our encampment, we passed some of the tents of Kedar pitched under a tree outside the village, exactly like those mentioned before—low dark-brown cov
* Jer. xli. 8 t Zeph. ii. 6. X Isa. xxii. 22
$ Song v. 1. II Josh. xix. 41. Judg. xiii. 25.
x ne wuiueu in an mis re«ion wear long veus, wnicn in part cover the lower part of the face, but are not drawn close over it as in Egypt. Long veils seem to have been common, and were used for various purposes, often like aprons.*
The incessant sound of the grasshopper both day and night, made us observe how natural was the image used by the spies, " we were in our own sight as grasshoppers,"f for, like us, they must have listened to their perpetual chirping in this very region. Before falling asleep we heard the wild howling of the jackal and the wolf, as if hungry for a prey.
(June 6.) We were awakened before break of day by the voice of Mustapha crying to Ibraim and Ahmet, "Koorth Koom," "Rise, rise." The sleepers answered now and then by a groan, till, wearied out by their refusal, Mustapha resolved on forsaking us, and actually gave orders to his Bedouins to depart. We all started up, and our tents were down in a few minutes. Mustapha's great anxiety was to get past a certain part of the road, which is infested with flies, before the sun was hot. We were on our camels before five, and the moon was shining sweetly on Doulis as we departed. Instead of going northward, our route now lay directly eastward. We ascended a hilly pass, adorned with wild flowers and perfumed with fragrant thyme. The birds, too, were filling the morning air with their sweet voices. Looking behind us, we could see, under the rising sun, the pleasant village we had left, till we arrived at the top of the rocky eminence. The slopes on each side were bare and stony, but evidently well fitted for training the vine in the days of Eshtaol's glory. We supposed that, in
• Ruth iii. 15. 12 t Num. xiii. 33.
mine, whose white flowers formed an agreeable variety. There were no traces of that arid sandy aspect so characteristic of the country from which we had just emerged. In the background, the beautiful hill country of Judah rose tier above tier, and the sun, which was just rising over them, poured a flood of golden rays into the plain. This is the great plain of Sephela, called " The Plain."J
As we descended into the vale, we inquired of the Arabs the names of the different villages in sight, making them repeat the name carefully and frequently, that we might not be mistaken. Three villages immediately before us, and not far off, they called Erd Safeen. On the extreme right, under the hill, we were pointed to Aragesh Sueidan, then more to the east to Bet-affa, and farther still, to Karatieh, with a tower, perhaps the ancient Bethcar; \ the next we were shown was Hatta, the next Oudsir, and still farther across the plain Thitcrin. They pointed also to the situation of Bet Jibrin, believed to be the ancient Elcutherovolis. Ibraim, our guide, had visited it with Professor Robinson, and described to us the curious remains of buildings which they found there. On the extreme left, and nearly north from us, was a considerable village, Bet-daras. A distant hill of a conical form to the north-east, they called El-betune. We now came down upon the three villages of Safeen, situated as it were at the points of a triangle,
• Judges xiii. 2, 25; xiv. 5. t 1 Sam. v. 3 .
lOhad. 19. 518am. vii. 11.
PLAIN OP ZEPHATHAH KASTEEN. 115
and about a quarter of a mile distant from each other We halted for a few minutes to break our fast with a little barley-bread and fine warm milk. But now we began to experience the annoyance of which we had been forewarned by Mustapha. The air was filled with swarms of small flies, whose bite was very troublesome, so that we were glad to use every means to cover our laces. The camels also, stung by these insects, became very restive, and for the first time almost ungovernable. A wolf here started across our path, and fled before us.
The last of the three villages has marks of antiquity. There is a large well a little out of the town, from which the water is drawn up in the same way as at Doulis. The women were all busy drawing the morning supply; some were washing their hands and faces, and their feet, by rubbing one foot upon another. There are also many pits for grain here, large stones and mounds of earth, and a pool of water. A wady winds past, called W'ady Safeen, at present dry, but it may have been a considerable stream in winter. The situation and the name of these villages at once suggested to us that this is the valley of Zephuthah, where Asa defeated Zerah, the Ethiopian, with his host of" a thousand thousand." * In this vast plain there would be room enough for all. that multitude, and ample scope in these level fields for the three hundred chariots. We remembered with fresh interest also, how the ark of God was carried by the two milch kine from the land of the Philistines to Beth-shemesh, across this very plain, probably a little to the north of us.f Nor could we lift our eyes to the hill country of Judah without remembering the visit of the mother of our Lord to her cousin Elizabeth.J Once also Mareshah, Lachish, and Libnah stood in this vast plain.
At nine o'clock we arrived at Kasteen, where was a well and plenty of water, pits for grain, and mounds of earth. Upon the roof of the houses the inhabitants were spreading out sheaves of corn to dry. We immediately thought of Rahab hiding the spies at Jericho.} A solitary palm rises in the midst of the village. On the left side of the road is Hasur, a small village with many trees, perhaps one of the "Uazors" of Judah. ||
Half an hour after we rested at Mesmieh, a village
• S Chron. xhr. 9 t 1 Som. vi. 12. t Luke i. 39.
♦ Josh. ii. 6 II Josh. Xt. 25.
] 16 VILLAGE OP MESMIEH—THRASHING-FLOOR.
surrounded by prickly pear, and interspersed with olivetrees. The houses were of a wretched description; but there were deep pits for grain—a large well also at the farther side of the village, and a pool near it, where the oxen were bathing themselves up to the neck to get rid of the flies. We found a scanty shelter under an old decaying olive-tree.
At one o'clock we mounted again,—the great heat, the flies, and the bad water, making us very willing to depart. An interesting and lively scene of niral life here presented itself . Close to the village lay a thrashing floor, where twenty or thirty pair of oxen were employed in treading out corn. One peasant attended to each pair, and another tossed up the straw with a wooden fork, and spread it out again for them to tread. Few of the oxen were muzzled. We remembered the commandment, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn;"* and how Paul says to ministers, "For our sakes no doubt this is written, that he that plougheth should plough in hope, and that he that thrasheth in hope, should be partaker of his hope." f The camels, too, were carrying home loads of ripe sheaves, to the sound of the tinkling bell round their neck.
On a rising ground far to the south, stands a village with a kind of fort, which our guide called Assenibba4 Our route now lay by a ruined arch, El-mohrazin." A village stood here a few years ago, but a virulent epidemic cut off all the inhabitants. Under another archway not far off, the people were winnowing barley, casting it up to the wind with a wooden fan. A woman passed carrying her child on her shoulder in a cradle.
Here we came upon a narrow stream of water called by our guide Wady Maruba, an hour and a half from Mesmieh. The water was very muddy, yet the Arabs drank and bathed in it with the greatest satisfaction. This was the first sight we obtained of running water since entering this land, which was once called "a land of brooks of water."} We again remembered the prayer of Israel, so applicable at this moment, "Turn again our
* Doit. xxv. 4. t 1 Cor. ix. 10.
t Probably Neit Nuzib described by Professor Robinson, having a
ined tower; vol. Hi. p. 12. The Nezib of Josh. xv. 43.
S Deut . viii. 7.
or sesamine, like " hemlock in the iurrows ol the held."; Through the whole of the plain the ground is chapped and cracked as if by an earthquake, and to the foot feels hard as iron. All these things appear without contradiction to be a literal fulfilment of the word of God. "Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers," " until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high."} "The rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness."|| "Thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron." IT
We passed along the banks of a brook for a little way, fenced by tall reeds, among which the cattle were enjoying the cooling shade and drinking the waters. A flock of large birds having red bills and legs, white bodies and black tails, in form like our heron, were stalking along the marshy places. The natives called them the Abusat. Straight before us, though not on our road, upon a point of the hills, stood Jimso,** a village that seemed to have some buildings of limestone from its peculiarly white appearance.
Towards evening we entered among the lower tract of hills, behind which rose the mountains of Judah, which appeared very beautiful in the evening sun, the limestone of which they are composed giving a white appearance to all the mountain tracts. Here we began to notice the remains of terraces. At five o'clock, we passed on our left hand Hulda, a ruined village on the top of a height,
• Ps. cxxvi. 4. t Joel iii. 1& t Hos. x. 4.
4 Isa. xxxii. 13,15. II Joel i. 20. T Deut. xxviii. 23.
** The some as Uinao, 2 Chron. xxviii. 18.
118 HILLS OP JUDAH—VILLAGE OP LATROON.
evidently a place of strength and antiquity. An old bridge spans the stream at the foot of the hill, and the remains of a massive causeway lead up to the town.
We turned northward, getting deeper into the hills of Judah. Hitherto appearances had indicated fertility in the soil, but now the hills became bare and rocky on each side for about an hour's ride, though even these showed many marks of former cultivation. We passed on our left a small village, Deir-maheysen, where many of the villagers were assembled under the shade of a large nabbok-tree, the only tree of considerable size within view. We were at some distance, and did not see distinctly how they were employed, but they seemed to be enjoying an evening's relaxation in the cool of the day.
Wearied with the constant motion of the camel, we sometimes dismounted and beguiled the way by culling a few of the choice pinks and wild mountain flowers that grew among the rocks. Here we overtook an Arabian playing with all his might upon a shepherd's pipe made of two reeds. This was the first time we had seen any marks of joy in the land, for certainly " Al l joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone."* We afterwards found that the Jews have no harp, nor tabret, nor instrument of music in the Holy Land. In all parts of it, they have an aspect of timidity and rooted sorrow. So fully are the words fulfilled, " All the merry-hearted do sigh, the mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth." f All the men we met with were strangers; ancient Israel are left " few in number, whereas they were as the stars of heaven for multitude." J We have not as yet met a single child of Abraham in their own land. The threatening of Isaiah has come to pass, "Your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers."}
The hills now opened wider, and our path turned northeast to the village of Latroon, strongly situated on a rocky eminence. There can be little doubt that this must have been the site of some of the ancient fortresses of Judah. A winding path leads to it from the valley below; and here the traveller may stand and catch a wide view of the surrounding hills, all bearing the remains of ancient terraces, though not a vine is "trained upon them. a short absence, however, he returned to tell us thai ... had failed in his attempt . He found the surface overgrown with strong briers and thorns, through which he tried to make his way, but without success: "Every place where there was a thousand vines at a thousand silverings, it shall even be for briers and thorns. With arrows and bows shall men come thither, because all the land shall become briers and thorns." * Many times this day did the words of Isaiah come into our mind: "They shall lament for the teats (i. e. a soil rich as breasts full of milk, the uber agri), for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine. Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers ;"f "until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high."J We felt a secret joy in beholding the deserted terraces and fields overrun with thorns; for when we saw the word of threatening so clearly and literally fulfilled, our unbelief was reproved, and we were taught to expect without a shadow of doubt, that the as the sun arose. Perhaps the Psalmist had reference to such a scene when he sang, "He sendeth the springs into the valleys which run among the hills." "By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches."* At least it was peculiarly pleasant to remember these words in such a spot, so near the place where David learned to sing. We came upon many small mountain streams, on the banks of which grew luxuriant bushes, and from the branches of which the blackbird, lark, and others were pouring forth their lays. About five o'clock we reached the head of the valley in which Latroon is situated, and began to enter a singular mountain defile, called the Pass of Latroon. It is supposed that the "Descent of Iietk-lioron" and the "Ascent" is this defile. Other travellers have found the name Betur in a village not far off, and the entrance is called Bab-el-Wady, or "Gate of the Valley." The sun rose upon the tops of the mountains soon ai'ter we entered this defile, revealing a scene truly wild and romantic. The path is steep and rocky, and especially difficult for camels, whose feet arc better fitted for the soft sands of the desert, yet they pressed on with wonderful perseverance. Around and above us were rocks of the wildest description, yet adorned with the richest vegetation. Trees of considerable size occasionally lined the Pass: the largest were called by the Arabs the batut and balur. Pleasant shrubs and flowers also attracted our eye, • Pa. civ. 10,1*
• Isa. xxiv. 11. tlsa. xxiv. 7, 8.
t Dtul. xxviii. 62. $ Isa. i. 7.
* Isa. vii. 23, 24.
t We felt the same in traversing the vast plain of Eadraclon, the greater part of which is covered over with almost impenetrable thickets of weeds, thorns, briers, and thistles. Some time after when sailing up the Bosphorus, conversing with a gentleman whom we had met in Palestine, who appeared to be a man of tho world, we asked him if he had climbed Mount Tabor, to obtain the delightful view from its summit. 11 is answer was,—" No. Why should I climb Mount Tabor, to see a country of thorns!" He was thus an unintentional witness to the trulh of- God's word. "Briers and thorns" include all kinds of thmny growth, whether the common brier, or the thorn, or the thistle, perhaps it might take in even the prickly pear, now so common as a hedge throughout the country. "Thorns and thistles" are specially appropriate in a land under the curse. See Gen. iii. 1a
t Isa. x.x.tii. 12—IS.
thus taught them thriftily to use every spot of their fruitful land, and to cover the very rocks with the shadow of their vines.
Frequently when we halted and looked calmly round, we could not discover a single spot, either in the channel of the ravine, or on the mountain side, that was not terraced in some way. Often the natural rock was sufficient of itself to preserve the soil from being washed down. Rough stone-dykes were built with amazing pains along the ledge of rock, but frequently there was no rock, and the terrace was entirely the work of men's hands. In many of the mountains the terraces appeared to be perfectly entire, and the soil fully preserved to this day, enriched no doubt by having lain fallow for ages. The vines and the inhabitants alone are wanting, and the blessing from above. In the hollows of the ravine we sometimes came upon a small field of barley, often a fine olive-yard, and sometimes an orchard of fig-trees, but not the vestige of a vine did we see during the whole ascent .
At a step or turn of the Pass, near the ruins of a small 122 PASS OP LATROON—RAMLA—SHARON.
* Richardson has noticed these. He first remarks (not quite accurately) that there are no traces of artificial terraces, and then describes "the horizontal strata, which have exactly the appearance of the stonecourses in a building."
building, we looked back and obtained a delightful view of the valley through which we had come. The sight of the terraced hills, with their bright verdure, lighted up by the brilliant beams of the morning sun, made us think how lovely this spot must have been in the days of David and Solomon, when its luxuriance was yet un blighted by the curse of Israel's God.
At length we reached the plantation of olive-trees, and the ruins of a small fort, perhaps the Modin of many travellers, which mark the summit of this interesting Pass. We had been ascending for four hours and a half from Latroon. From this point we obtained a beautiful glance of Ramla, lying to the north-west, in the plain of Sharon. Its tower, houses, and minarets were conspicuous. It has long been regarded as Arimathea, the city of the wealthy Joseph, whose noble character is referred to by each of the Evangelists. We felt that perhaps the rich man came by this very route to Jerusalem on the awful day of the crucifixion. Possibly we were in his footsteps, for this is still the Jaffa road. By this route also would Peter* go down to the saints who dwelt at Lydda, which is within an hour of Ramla, when he healed Eneas, and drew the eyes of all in that beautiful plain to the Rose of Sharon.
We now began to descend, and came down upon a beautiful village which the Arabs called Karieh or Kurieh.f It was the residence of a famous native chieftain named Abugush, and still belongs to his family. The houses are solidly built of stone, and there are ruins of ancient buildings, especially a large church or abbey in the Gothic style, which Ibrairn told us was now turned into a mosque. The village is literally embosomed among olives, pomegranates, and very large fig-trees, and a solitary palm rises above the cluster. The pomegranates were in full bloom, the scarlet flowers shining brilliantly from among their deep green leaves. A flock of goats was browsing beneath the trees. Many of the terraces around were frnely cultivated, showing what these mountains might soon become.
* Acts ix. 35.
t Professor Robinson shows that this may be the site of K'njathjearim, where the ark of God remained for twenty years. 1 8am. vii. 1,2. Perhaps Kuryet-el-Enab may be a corruption of Kirjath-Abinadab, city of Aoinadab, as Bethany is now called by the name of Lazarus. Richardson calls the place Karialoonah, but the proper name is Kuryet-el-Enab, "city of grapes,"—the woods of the ancient Kirjatbjearim having given place to the vine.
bottom of the wady up to the summit of the mountain. What a garden of delights this must have been, when, instead of grass making green the surface, verdant and luxuriant vines were their clothing! Solomon's vineyard at Baal-hamon * could not have been more noble; and nowhere could we have better understood the invitation, " Let us lodge in the villages; let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth." f We could understand how the words of Joel shall yet be literally true, " The mountains shall drop down new wine," J when every vine on these hills shall be hanging its ripe clusters over the terraces. In observing, too, the singular manner in which the most rocky mountains have at one time been made, through vast labour and industry, to yield an abundant return to the husbandman, we saw clearly the meaning of the promise in Ezekiel, " But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come."}
* Songviii. 11. t Song vii. 11, 12. t Joel iii. 1a
$ Ezek. xxxvi. a See Dr. Keith's remarks, made on the spot, and given in pp. 110,120,121. of the 23d edition of his Kvidencc of Prophecy. 124 HILLS OP JCDAH—ENGLISH FRIEND.
There seems to be little doubt that the Psalmist refers to the mode of training the vine over these terraces, when he says, " The hills were covered with the shadow of it."*
We ascended another rocky path, and when arrived at the summit began to descend again into a pleasant valley, overhanging which is the tower El KustuI, a name derived from the Latin castellum; but its history is unknown. The pathway was very steep, so that it was sometimes safer to leave the camel's back and walk; still the faithful animals never made a stumble. Half-way down this ravine there is a well of fine cold water, from which we drank in a broken sherd. At this point, to our great surprise, a young gentleman in European dress met and passed us riding upon a mule. He saluted us with "Good morning;" the first English words we had heard from a stranger for many a day. He proved to be Mr. Bergheim, the assistant medical attendant of the Jewish mission at Jerusalem, on his way to Joppa. Figs and vines were cultivated on many of the terraces here, but when we reached the bottom of the valley, it was one complete garden or rather orchard of fruit-trees. The vines, the figs, pomegranates, peaches, citrons, quinces, and lemons, were all budding or ripening in a most luxuriant manner. The scene afforded a perfect picture of outward peace and prosperity. The vines were twining round the fig-trees for support; and many of the fig-trees were " planted in a vineyard," recalling to our mind the language used in the parable of our Lord.f A clear brook flowing down the valley, gave freshness and beauty to every green thing. The Arabs washed themselves in it .
We now entered into what is generally believed to be the Valley of Elah. It is called by the Arabs Wady Bet Hanina; but there is a Wady Aly not far off that seems to retain the ancient name. This is believed by many to be the place where David slew Goliath of Gath, the champion of the Philistines. \ Whether it be so or not, the sight of these deep valleys gave us a clear and vivid impression of the memorable conflict. Here were hills on each side, the ravine between being deep and narrow. On the front of these opposing hills the armies were encamped. "The Philistines stood on a mountain
* Ps. lxxx. 10. The Hebrew word for these terraces is found in fizek. xxxviii. 20, " the steep places," niJTtDn t Luke xiii. 6. t 1 Sam. xvii. 2.
known. The voice of the turtle saluted us from its olive-trees. We now ascended a much barer mountain, and by a path the steepest we had yet climbed, yet the camels went up wonderfully. Arrived at the summit, it appeared as if we had left all cultivation behind. A bare desert of sun-burnt rocks stretches to the right as far as the eye can reach. We remembered the description given by travellers of these mountains, and knew that we were near the Holy City. Every moment we expected to see Jerusalem. Though wearied by our long ride, which had now lasted seven hours, we eagerly pressed on. Mr. M'Cheyne, dismounting from his camel, hurried forward on foot over the rocky footpath, till he gained the point where the city of the Lord comes first in sight. Soon all of us were on the spot, silent, buried in thought, and wistfully gazing on the wondrous scene where the Redeemer died. The distant mountains beyond the city seemed so near, that at first sight we mistook them for the mountains that enclose "the valley of vision," though they proved to be the mountains of Moab, on the east side of the Dead Sea. As yet we were not sufficiently accustomed to the pure clear atmosphere, so that distances were often very deceptive. As our camels slowly approached the city, its sombre walls rose before us; but in these there is nothing to attract or
126 JERUSALEM—FEELINGS ON ARRIVAL.
excite the feelings. At that moment we were impressed chiefly by the fact that we were now among "the mountains that are round about Jerusalem," * and half unconscious that it was true, we repeated inwardly the words, "Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem." We got a slight view of the Mount of Olives, as we rode toward the Jaffa Gate. The nearer we came to the city, the more we felt it a solemn thing to be where "God manifest in flesh" had walked.
The feelings of that hour could not even be spoken. We all moved forward in silence, or interchanging feelings only by a word. While passing along the pathway immediately under the western wall, from which no object of any interest can be seen, and entering the Jaffa Gate, we could understand the exclamation, and were almost ready to use it as our own, "Is this the city which men call the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth T'f Its dark walls, and the glance we got of slippery narrow streets, with low ill-built houses, and a poor ill-clad population, suggested no idea of the magnificence of former days. But we were soon to learn, that all the elements of Jerusalem's glory and beauty are still remaining in its wonderful situation, fitting it to be once again in the latter day, " The city of the Great King."
* Pb. cxxv. 2. t Lam. ii. 15.
British Consul, to whom we had letters v,,
He soon returned to say that the Consul was waiting ,^t us, and would procure a lodging in part of an unoccupied house near the Latin Convent. Our camels and servants moved slowly away to their place of destination, and we followed Ibraim down the steep and slippery street opposite the Jaffa Gate. In a few minutes we were at the house of Mr. Young, who received us with the greatest kindness. He told us the general state of matters in Jerusalem. The plague had not yet left the town, but the number of cases was decreasing; and there was no cordon drawn round the walls as had lately been the case. He strongly recommended us not to encamp on the Mount of Olives, as we had proposed, but to live in the town, and use the ordinary precautions of touching nobody in the streets, and receiving all articles of food through water. He then introduced us to two travellers just returned from Petra by the way of Hebron, Lord Claud Hamilton and Mr. Lyttleton. The former was not a little surprised to meet in Jerusalem with Dr. Black, whom he had known in former days as a laborious student and theologian, and unassuming minister in the parish of Tarvis in Aberdeenshire.
Two large apartments were assigned to us on Mount Acra, floored with stone, with a pleasant open space on the roof between them.
Worn out with incessant travelling, we were thankful to retire, that we might refresh our weary frames and compose our minds, which were not a little bewildered by the multitude of feelings that had passed through in Jerusalem—so irue is me propneuc woru, "i wiu cause all her mirth to cease." *
It was with feelings that can be better imagined than described, that for the first time in our lives within the gates of Jerusalem, we committed ourselves and those dear to us, our Church, and the blessed cause in which she had sent us forth, to the care of Him who sits as a King upon the holy hill of Zion. We are not aware that any clergyman of the Church of Scotland was ever privileged to visit the Holy City before, and now that four of us had been brought thus far by the good hand of our God upon us, we trusted that it might be a token for good, and perhaps the dawn of a brighter day on our beloved Church, a day of generous self-denied exertion in behalf of scattered Israel and a perishing world.
(Saturday, June 8.) We had spread our mats on the cool stone-floor, hoping for a night of calm repose, but our rest was broken and uncomfortable in the extreme, our rooms being infested with vermin, a kind of trial which travellers in the East must make up their mind frequently to undergo. All our annoyance, however, was forgot by sunrise. We rose early, and finding the road to the Jaffa Gate, went a little way out of the city and sat down under an olive-tree. We turned to Psalm xlviii, "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the fortable rooms, with an outer one for our two Arab servants. In this house, one of our windows opened toward the east, having a fine view of the dome of the Mosque of Omar, which rises over the site of Solomon's Temple, and beyond it was the Mount of Olives. That ever-memorable hill, with its three summits, its white limestone rocks appearing here and there, and its wide bosom still sprinkled over with the olive-tree, was the object on which our eye rested every morning as we rose, an object well fitted to call to mind the words of Jesus spoken there, "Watch ye, therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning."} Toward the west, the object that first met our eye used to be a solitary palm-tree, growing amidst a heap of ruins, and waving its branches over them, as if pointing to the fulfilment of the prophecy, "Jerusalem shall become heaps."}
* Hosoa. ii. 11.
The site of the proposed Hebrew church was not far off. It is close to Mr. Nicolayson's own house. At that time the foundations were only digging, and builders were preparing the stones, which we saw camels carrying into town. We were told that they were brought from a quarry a few miles north of Jerusalem, near a village called Anata, the ancient Anathoth, where Jeresuggested to us a literal interpretation of the words of Jeremiah, " Her gates are sunk into the ground."|| The ancient gates mentioned by Nehemiaht are no longer to be found, and it is quite possible that several of them may be literally buried below the feet of the inquiring traveller.
* Pn. xlviii. 1. 2, 3. t Lam. ii. 1, 5.
J Mark xiii. 35. i Mic. iii. 12.
During the day we began inquiries after the Jews in their own land. We were told that the plague prevailed most of all in their quarter, and that we must be very cautious in visiting their houses. Meanwhile Mr. Nicolayson afforded us every information. The difficulties in the way of the conversion of the Jews are certainly
freater in Palestine than elsewhere. The chief of these ifficulties are, 1. That Jerusalem is the stronghold of Rabbinism; the Jews here being all strict Rabbinists, and, as might be expected, superstitious in the extreme. 2. A Missionary has fewer points of contact with the Jews here than in other countries. He cannot reach them through the press, nor address them in large assemblies; his work must be carried on entirely by personal intercourse, so that it is like wrenching out the stones of a building one by one. 3. The opposition to an inquir
* They have since reached the old foundaliont (Isa. lviii. 12), after digging fifty feet . See Mr. Nicolayson's letter in the Jewish Intelligence for April 1840. It is a striking fact, that the foundations of Jerusalem should be thus hid in the ground, when we contrast it with the case of Samaria, of which it was foretold, "I will discover the foundations thereof" (Mic. i. 6.) Here is the accurate minuteness and distinguishing definiteness of the God of truth, who can point his finger to one ipot and say, " It shall be thui with thee;" and turn to another spot and »ay in equal sovereignty, " It shall be otherwite with thee!"
t Mic. iii. 12. t Jer. ix. 11. i Jer. ux. 18
II Lam. ii. 9. 1 Nehem. iii.
be educated; there being no situations of wealth or distinction open to their young men, which might tempt them to accept of a liberal education for their youth. The London Society have entertained the plan of instituting'a school for converts, in which many branches of general knowledge would be taught, and this might perhaps allure some of their brethren to attend.
In regard to Missionaries, a converted Jew is in some respects a better missionary than a Gentile. It is true he meets with greater opposition in the first instance, but in process of time, the fact of his change never fails to make an impression on his brethren, provided they see in him consistency of temper, character, and life. A Jew will indeed listen more readily to a Gentile Christian, and show him more respect; but then he listens more carelessly and thinks less of what is said, because he thinks it natural for a Gentile so to speak. A Gentile missionary again, has the advantage of more ready access to the Jews, being regarded with far less prejudice; but a Jewish convert is more efficient where confidence is once established. Perhaps the true principle in missions to the Jews, is to unite both Jewish and Gentile labourers in the same field.