How is the city of praise not left
The city of Damascus, famous for its antiquity, its wealth and riches, strength and power; and with the Heathens for its devotion and superstition. So Julian
F9 the emperor calls it,
``the truly city of Jupiter; the eye of the whole east; Damascus the holy and the greatest;''but more especially for its delightful and pleasant situation. Benjamin Tudelensis F11 says it was, in his time,
``a very great and beautiful city, surrounded with a wall; and the country about it was full of gardens and orchards, fifteen miles' walk on every side of it; and no city in the whole world appeared with such plenty of fruit as that did.''Monsieur Thevenot F12 relates, that
``the city of Damascus is in the middle of a spacious plain, surrounded with hills, but all distant from the town, almost out of sight; those on the north side are the nearest, on which side it hath a great many gardens, full of trees, and most fruit trees; these gardens take up the ground from the hill of the forty martyrs, even to the town; so that at a distance it seems to be a forest.''Mr. Maundrell F13 tells us, that the Turks relate this story of their prophet Mahomet, that,
``coming near Damascus, he took his station at a high precipice, in order to view it; and considering the ravishing beauty and delightfulness of it, he would not tempt his frailty by entering into it; but instantly departed with this reflection on it, that there was but one paradise designed for men, and for his part he was resolved not take his in this world;''and, adds the same traveller,
``you have indeed from the precipice the most perfect prospect of Damascus; and certainly no place in the world can promise the beholder at a distance greater voluptuousness. It is situate in an even plain of so great extent, that you can but just discern the mountains that compass it on the farther side. In its length it extends near two miles, and is encompassed with gardens, extending no less, according to common estimation, than thirty miles round; which makes it look like a noble city in a vast wood.''Strabo F14 says of this city, that it is worthy of praise, and almost the most famous city of all near Persia. The sense of it either is, how is it that so famous a city was not spared by the enemy, that they did not leave it untouched, but destroyed and demolished it? or how is it that it was not fortified by the inhabitants of it; that a parapet was not built about the wall all around, to strengthen it, and keep out the enemy? This sense, as well as the former, is mentioned both by Jarchi and Kimchi, who direct to ( Nahum 3:8 ) , for the confirmation of this sense of the word: the city of my joy!
these are either the words of the prophet, who had a great regard to the city of Damascus as ancient, well built, and opulent city, and lamented its destruction; or rather of the king of it, as Jarchi; or of the inhabitants of it, who said this to one another as they fled; so Kimchi: but there is no necessity of rendering it "my joy", only "joy"; for the "jod" affixed may not be considered as a pronoun, but as a paragogic, or a Syriac termination, which is common; though some interpret this of the city of Jerusalem, and as spoken by the Lord, or by the prophet in his name, upbraiding the Syrians for their hatred to it, and disturbance they gave it; and which is now mentioned as one cause and reason of their ruin; see ( Amos 1:3 ) .
F9 Opera, par. 2. Ep. 24. p. 145.
F11 Itinerarium, p. 54, 55.
F12 Travels, par. 2. B. 1. p. I9.
F13 Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 121, 122. Ed. 7.
F14 Geograph. l. 16. p. 520.