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Palestine or the Holy Land by Michael Russell

Part 2 out of 6

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his moral lessons was strongly contrasted with the practical follies
which stand recorded against him in the inspired narrative. He totally
disregarded the leading principles of the constitution constructed by
Moses and left for the guidance of all Hebrew kings; not only multiplying
horses even to the extent of maintaining a large body of cavalry, and
marrying many wives who turned away his heart, but proceeding so far as to
give his countenance to idolatrous worship within sight of the very Temple
which he had consecrated to Jehovah, the God of all the earth.[39]

It was in this reign that the limits of Jewish power attained their
utmost reach, comprehending even the remarkable district of Palmyrene, a
spacious and fertile province in the midst of a frightful desert. There
were in it two principal towns, Thapsacus and Palmyra, from the latter
of which the whole country took its name. Solomon, it is well known,
took pleasure to adding to its beauty and strength, as being one of his
main defences on the eastern border; and hence it is spoken of in
Scripture as Tadmor in the wilderness. Josephus calls it Thadamor; the
Seventy recognise it under the name of Theodmor and Thedmor; while the
Arabs and Syrians at the present day keep alive the remembrance of its
ancient glory as Tadmor, Tadmier, and Tatmor. But of Solomon's labours
not one vestige now remains. The inhabitants having revolted from the
Emperor Aurelian, and pledged their faith to an adventurer called
Antiochus, or Achilles, who had assumed the purple, this splendid
town was attacked and razed to the ground. Repenting of his hasty
determination, the Roman prince gave orders that Palmyra should be
immediately rebuilt; but so inefficient were the measures which he
adopted, or so imperfectly was he obeyed in their execution, that the
city in the desert has ever since been remarkable only as a heap of
magnificent ruins. The first object that now presents itself to the
traveller who approaches this forlorn place, is a castle of mean
architecture and uncertain origin, about half an hour's walk from it, on
the north side. "From thence," says Mr. Maundrell, "we descry Tadmor,
enclosed on three sides, by long ridges of mountains; but to the south
is a vast plain which bounds the visible horizon. The barren soil
presents nothing green but a few palm trees. The city must have been of
large extent, if we may judge from the space now taken up by the ruins;
but as there are no traces of its walls, its real dimensions and form
remain equally unknown. It is now a deplorable spectacle, inhabited by
thirty or forty miserable families, who have built huts of mud within a
spacious court which once enclosed a magnificent heathen temple."[40]

The despotism exercised by Solomon created a strong reaction, which was
immediately felt on the accession of his son Rehoboam. This prince,
rejecting the advice of his aged counsellors, and following that of the
younger and more violent, soon had the misfortune to see the greater
part of his kingdom wrested from him. In reply to the address of his
people, who entreated an alleviation of their burdens, he declared,
that instead of requiring less at their hands he should demand more.
"My father made your yoke heavy, I will add to your yoke; my father
chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions." Such
a resolution, expressed in language at once so contemptuous and severe,
alienated from his government ten tribes, who sought a more indulgent
master in Jeroboam, a declared enemy of the house of David. Hence the
origin of the kingdom of Israel, as distinguished from that of Judah;
and hence, too, the disgraceful contentions between these kindred
states, which acknowledged one religion, and professed to be guided by
the same law. Arms and negotiation proved equally unavailing, in
repeated attempts which were made to reunite the Hebrews under one
sceptre; till, at length, about two hundred and seventy years after the
death of Solomon, the younger people were subdued by Shalmaneser, the
powerful monarch of Assyria, who carried them away captive into the
remoter provinces of his vast empire.[41]

Our plan does not admit a minuter detail of the sacred history than may
be readily found in the pages of the Old Testament. Suffice it therefore
to observe, that Jerusalem soon ceased to be regarded by the Israelites
as the centre of their religion, and the bond of union among the
descendants of Abraham.

Jeroboam had erected in his kingdom the emblems of a less pure faith, to
which he confined the attention of his subjects; while the frequent wars
that ensued, and the treaties formed on either side with the Gentile
nations on their respective borders, soon completed the estrangement
which ambition had begun. Little attached to the native line of princes,
the Israelites placed on the throne of Samaria a number of adventurers,
who had no qualities to recommend them besides military courage and an
irreconcilable hatred towards the more legitimate claimants of the house
of David. The following list will give a condensed view of the names,
the order, and the length of the reigns which belong to the sovereigns
of Israel, from the demise of Solomon down to the extinction of their
kingdom by the arms of Assyria:--

Years B.C.
1. Jeroboam 22 990
2. Nadad 2 968
3. Baasha 23 966
4. Ela 1 943
5. Zimri and Omri 11 942
6. Ahab 22 931
7. Ahaziah 2 909
8. Jehoram or Joram 12 907
9. Jehu 28 895
10. Jehoahaz 17 867
11: Jehoash or Joash 16 850
12. Jeroboam II 41 834
1st Interregnum 22 793
13. Zechariah and Shallum 1 771
14. Menahem 10 770
15. Pekahiah 2 760
16. Pekah 20 758
2d Interregnum 10 738
17. Hoshea 9 728
--- ---
Samaria taken 271 719

It appears to have escaped the notice of the greater number of
commentators, that the separation of interests, which in the days of
Rehoboam produced a permanent division of the tribes, had manifested
itself at a much earlier period. In truth, it is extremely doubtful
whether the union and co-operation between the northern and the southern
communities, which was meant to be accomplished by the institution of
monarchy, were ever cordial or efficient. There is no doubt, at least,
that the two parties differed essentially in their choice of a successor
to Saul; for, while the people of Judah invited David to the supreme power
as their annointed sovereign, the suffrages of Israel were unanimous in
favour of Ishbosheth, the son of the deceased king. We may therefore
conclude, that the exactions of Solomon were the pretext rather than the
true cause of the unfortunate dismemberment of the Hebrew confederation,
which in the end conducted both sections of it by gradual steps to defeat
and captivity.

The kingdom of Judah, less distracted by the pretensions of usurpers, and
being confirmed in the principles of patriotism by a more rigid adherance
to the law of Moses, continued during one hundred and thirty years to
resist the encroachments of the two rival powers, Egypt and Assyria, which
now began to contend in earnest for the possession of Palestine. Several
endeavours were made, even after the destruction of Samaria, to unite the
energies of the Twelve Tribes, and thereby to secure the independence of
the sacred territory a little longer. But a pitiful jealousy had succeeded
to the aversion generated by a long course of hostile aggression; while
the overwhelming hosts, which incessantly issued from the Euphrates and
the Nile to select a field of battle within the borders of Canaan, soon
left to the feeble councils of Jerusalem no other choice than that of an
Egyptian or an Assyrian master.

In the year six hundred and two before the Christian era, when Jehoiakim
was on the throne of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar, who already shared with his
father the government of Assyria, advanced into Palestine at the head of a
formidable army. A timely submission saved the city as well as the life of
the pusillanimous monarch. But after a short period, finding the conqueror
engaged in more important affairs, the vanquished king made an effort to
recover his dominions by throwing off the Babylonian yoke. The siege of
Jerusalem was renewed with greater vigour on the part of the invaders, in
the course of which Jehoiakim was killed, and his son Coniah ascended the
throne. Scarcely, however, had the new sovereign taken up the reigns of
government, when he found it necessary to open the gates of his capital to
the Assyrian prince, who carried him, his principal nobility, and the most
expert of his artisans, as prisoners to the banks of the Tigris.

The nominal authority was now confided to a brother or uncle of the
captive king, whose original name, Mattaniah, was changed to Zedekiah by
his lord paramount, who considered him merely as the governor of a
province. Impatient of an office so subordinate, and instigated, it is
probable, by the emissaries of Egypt, he resolved to hazard his life and
liberty for the chance of reconquering the independence of his crown. This
imprudent step brought Nebuchadnezzar once more before the walls of
Jerusalem. A siege, which appears to have continued fifteen or sixteen
months, terminated in the final reduction of the holy city, and in the
captivity of Zedekiah, who was treated with the utmost severity. His two
sons were executed in his presence, after which his eyes were put out;
when, being loaded with fetters, he was carried to Babylon and thrown into

The work of demolition was intrusted to Nebuzar-adan, the captain of the
guard, who "burnt the house of the Lord and the king's house, and all the
houses of Jerusalem, and every great man's house burnt he with fire. And
the army of the Chaldees that were with the captain of the guard brake
down the walls of Jerusalem round about. The rest of the people that were
left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the King of Babylon,
with the remnant of the multitude, did the captain of the guard carry
away. But he left the poor of the land to be vine-dressers and

The kings who reigned over Judah from the demise of Solomon to the
destruction of the first temple are as follows:--

Years B.C.
1. Rhehoboam 17 990
2. Abijah 3 973
3. Asa 41 970
4. Jehoshaphat 25 929
5. Jehoram or Joram 8 904
6. Ahaziah 1 896
7. Queen Athaliah 8 895
8. Joash or Jehoash 40 889
9. Amaziah 29 849
Interregnum 11 820
10. Uzziah or Azariah 52 809
11. Jotham 16 757
12. Ahaz 18 741
13. Hezekiah 29 725
14. Manasseh 55 696
15. Amor 2 641
18. Josiah 31 639
17. Jehoahaz 3 months
18. Jehoiakim 11 608
19. Coniah or Jehoiachin 3 months
20. Zedekiah 11 597
--- ---
Jerusalem taken 404 586

The desolation inflicted upon Jerusalem by the hands of her enemies
excited the deepest sorrow, and gave rise to the most gloomy apprehensions
in regard to the future. Considering themselves under the special
protection of Jehovah, the inhabitants could not by any means be induced
to believe that the throne of David would be overturned by the armies of
the heathen. It was in vain that Jeremiah, at the imminent peril of his
life announced the approaching judgment, assuring the monarch and his
princes that the King of Babylon would certainly besiege and lay waste
their holy city, unless the evil were averted by an immediate change of
manners. All his remonstrances were greeted with contempt; and at length
the prophet had to bewail the misery which thus overtook his people, and
the varied sufferings, the contumely, and the degradation, which they were
doomed to endure in the land of their conquerers. "How doth the city sit
solitary that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that
was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, is become
tributary! She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks!
Judah is gone into captivity; she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth
no rest."[43]

These sentiments, although applied to a later period, are beautifully
expressed by a modern poet, to whom was granted no small share of the
pathetic eloquence of the prophetic bard whose words have just been quoted.

"Reft of thy sons, amid thy foes forlorn,
Mourn, widowed Queen, forgotten Sion, mourn!
Is this thy place, sad city, this thy throne,
Where the wild desert rears its craggy stone,
While suns unbless'd their angry lustre fling,
And wayworn pilgrims seek the scanty spring?
Where now thy pomp which kings with envy viewed,
Where now thy might which all those kings subdued?
No martial myriads muster in thy gate;
No suppliant nations in thy Temple wait;
No prophet bards, thy glittering courts among,
Wake the full lyre, and swell the tide of song.
But lawless Force and meager Want are there,
And the quick-darting eye of restless Fear;
While cold Oblivion, 'mid thy ruins laid,
Folds his dark wing beneath thy ivy shade."[44]

The seventy years which were determined concerning Jerusalem began, not
at the demolition of the city by Nebuzar-adan, the captain of the guard,
but at the date of the former invasion by his master, in the reign of
Jehoiakim, when the Assyrians carried away some of the princes, and among
others Daniel and his celebrated companions, as captives, or perhaps as
hostages for the good conduct of the king. The event now alluded to took
place exactly six centuries before the Christian era; and hence the return
of the Jews to the Holy Land must have occurred about the year 530 prior
to the same great epoch. But as their migration homeward was gradually
accomplished under different leaders, and with various objects in view,
their historians have not thought it necessary to enter into particulars;
and hence has arisen a certain obscurity in the calculations of divines
respecting the commencement, the duration, and the end of the Babylonian

The tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who now constituted the whole Jewish
nation, brought back with them to Palestine the ancient spirit of
hostility towards the Israelitish kingdom, the people of which they were
pleased to class under the general denomination of Samaritans; an impure
race, descended from the eastern colonists sent by Shalmaneser to replace
the Hebrew captives whom he removed to Halah and Habor and the cities of
the Medes. In this way they roused an opposition, and created difficulties
which otherwise they might not have experienced during their erection of
the second Temple. The countenance of the Persian court itself was
occasionally withdrawn from men, who appeared to acknowledge no affinity
with any other order of human beings, and who seemed determined to exclude
from their country, as well as from their religious rites and privileges,
all who could not establish an immaculate descent from the father of the
faithful. For this reason, the sympathy which is so naturally excited in
the breast of the reader in behalf of the weary exiles, who sat down and
wept by the waters of Babylon with their thoughts fixed on Zion, is very
apt to be extinguished when he contemplates the bitter enmity with which
they rejected the kind offices of their ancient brethren amid the ruins of
their metropolis.

The names of Zerubbabel, Nehemiah, and Ezra occupy the most distinguished
place among those worthies who were selected by Divine Providence
to conduct the restoration of the chosen people. After much toil,
interruption, and alarm, Jerusalem could once more boast of a temple
which, although destitute of the rich ornaments lavished upon that of
Solomon; was at least of equal dimensions, and erected on the same
consecrated ground. But the worshipper had to deplore the absence of the
Ark, the symbolical Urim and Thummim, the Shechinah or Divine Presence,
and the celestial fire which had maintained an unceasing flame upon the
altar. Their Sacred Writings, too, had been dispersed, and their ancient
language was fast becoming obsolete. To prevent the extension of so great
an evil, the more valuable manuscripts were collected and arranged,
containing the Law, the earlier Prophets, and the inspired Hymns used for
the purpose of devotion. Some compositions, however, which respected the
remotest period of their commonwealth, especially the Book of Jasher and
the Wars of the Lord, were irretrievably lost.

Under the Persian satraps, who directed the civil and military government
of Syria, the Jews were permitted to acknowledge the authority, of their
own high-priest, to whom, in all things pertaining to the law of Moses,
they rendered the obedience which was due to the head of their nation.
Their prosperity, it is true, was occasionally diminished or increased by
the personal character of the sovereigns who successively occupied the
throne of Cyrus; but no material change in their circumstances took place
until the victories of Alexander the Great had laid the foundations of the
Syro-Macedonian kingdom in Western Asia, and given a new dynasty to the
crown of Egypt. The struggles which ensued between these powerful states
frequently involved the interests of the Jews, and made new demands upon
their allegiance; although it is admitted, that as each was desirous to
conciliate a people who claimed Palestine for their unalienable heritage,
the Hebrews at large were, during two centuries, treated with much
liberality and favour. But this generosity or forbearance was interrupted
in the rein of Antiochus Epiphanes, who, alarmed by the report of
insurrections, and harassed by the events of an unsuccessful war in Egypt,
directed his angry passions against the Jews. Marching at the head of a
large force, he attacked Jerusalem so suddenly that no means of defence
could be used, and hardly any resistance attempted. Forty thousand of the
inhabitants were put to death, and an equal number condemned to slavery.
Not satisfied with this punishment, he proceeded to measures still more
appalling in the eyes of a Jew. He entered the Temple, pillaged the
treasury, seized all the sacred utensils, the golden candlestick, the
table of shew-bread, and the altar of incense. He then commanded a great
sow to be sacrificed on the altar of burnt offerings, part of the flesh to
be boiled, and the liquor from this unclean animal to be sprinkled over
every part of the sacred edifice; thus polluting with the most odious
defilement even the Holy of Holies, which no human eye, save that of the
high-priest, was ever permitted to behold.

A short time afterward, being the year 168 before the epoch of Redemption,
he issued an edict for the extermination of the whole Hebrew race, against
whom he had again conceived a furious dislike. This commission was
intrusted to Apollonius,--an instrument worthy of so sanguinary a
tyrant,--who, waiting till the Sabbath, when the people were occupied in
the peaceful duties of religion, let loose his soldiers upon the
unresisting multitude, slew all the men, whose blood deluged the streets,
and seized the women as captives. He first proceeded to plunder and then
to dismantle the city, which he set on fire in many places. He threw down
the walls, and built a strong fortress on the highest part of Mount Sion,
which commanded the Temple and all the adjoining parts of the town. From
this garrison he harassed the inhabitants of the country, who, with fond
attachment, stole in to visit the ruins, or to offer a hasty and perilous
worship in the place where their sanctuary had stood. All the public
services had ceased, and no voice of adoration was heard within the holy
gates, except that of the profane heathen calling on their idols.[45]

But the persecution did not end even with these furious expedients.
Antiochus next issued an order for uniformity of worship throughout all
his dominions, and sent officers everywhere to enforce the strictest
compliance. In the districts of Judea and Samaria, this invidious duty was
intrusted to Athenaeus, an old man, whose chief recommendation appears to
have been his intimate acquaintance with the doctrines and usages of the
Grecian religion. The Samaritans are said to have conformed without
scruple, and even to have permitted their temple on Mount Gerizim to be
regularly dedicated to Jupiter, in his character of the Stranger's Friend.
Having so far succeeded, the royal envoy turned his steps to Jerusalem,
where, at the point of the sword, he prohibited every observance connected
with the Jewish faith; compelling the people to profane the Sabbath, to
eat swine's flesh, and to abstain, under a severe penalty, from the
national rite of circumcision. The Temple was consigned by consecration to
the ceremonies of Jupiter Olympius; while the statue of that deity was
erected on the altar of burnt-offerings, and sacrifice duly performed in
his name. Two women, who had the initiatory ordinance enjoined by the
Mosaical law performed on their children, were hanged to a conspicuous
part of the city with their infants suspended round their necks; and many
other cruelties were perpetrated, the very atrocity of which precludes
them at once from popular belief and from the pages of history. Neither
age, nor sex, nor profession saved the proscribed Jew from the horrors of
a violent death. From Jerusalem, too, the persecution spread over the
whole country; in every city the same barbarities were executed and the
same profanations introduced. As a last insult, the feasts of the
Bacchanalia, the license of which, as they were celebrated in the later
ages of Greece, shocked the severe virtue of the older Romans, were
substituted for the national festival of tabernacles. The reluctant
Hebrews were forced to join in these riotous orgies, and carry the ivy,
the insignia of the god. So nearly were the Jewish nation and the worship
of Jehovah exterminated by the double weapons of superstition and

But this savage intolerance produced in due time a formidable opposition.
To a sincere believer death has always appeared a smaller evil than the
relinquishment of his faith; and, in this respect, no people ancient or
modern have shown more resolution than the descendants of Abraham. The
severities of Antiochus, which had inflamed the resentment of the whole
Jewish people, called forth in a hostile attitude the brave family of the
Maccabees, whose valour and perseverance enabled them to dispute with the
powerful monarch of Syria the sovereignty of Palestine. Judas, the ablest
and most gallant of five sons, put himself at the head of the insurgents,
whose zeal, more than compensating for the smallness of their numbers,
carried him to victory against large armies and experienced generals.
Making every allowance for the enthusiastic description of an admiring
countryman, who has recorded the exploits of the Maccabaean chiefs, there
will still remain the most ample evidence to satisfy every candid reader,
that in all the great battles the fortune of war followed the standard of
the Jews.

But the victorious Maccabees, who had delivered their country from the
oppression of foreigners, encountered a more formidable enemy in the
factious spirit of their own people. Alcimus, a tool of the Syrians,
assumed the title of high-priest, and in virtue of his office claimed the
obedience of all who acknowledged the institutions of Moses. In this
emergency Judas courted the alliance of the Romans, who willingly extended
their protection to confederates so likely to aid their ambitious views in
the East; but before the Republic could interpose her arms in his behalf,
the Hebrew general had fallen in the field of battle.

This distinguished patriot was succeeded by his brother Jonathan, who,
though less celebrated as a warrior, had the good fortune to restore the
drooping cause of his countrymen, and even to establish their rights on
the footing of independence. Profiting by a sanguinary competition for the
throne of Syria, he consented to employ his power in favour of Alexander
Balas, on condition that, in return for so seasonable an aid; he should be
allowed to assume the pontifical robe as ruler of Judea. Hence the origin
of the Asmonean princes, who, uniting civil with spiritual authority,
governed Palestine more than a hundred years.

But Jonathan fell the victim of that refined policy to which he was
mainly indebted for his elevation. He left the sovereign priesthood to
his brother Simon, who, wisely abstaining from all interference in the
disputes which embroiled Egypt and Syria, directed his whole attention
to the improvement of the Jewish kingdom. To secure the tranquillity
which had been so dearly purchased he cultivated a more intimate connexion
with Rome; remitting, from time to time, such valuable tokens of his
respect as could not fail to make an impression on the venal minds of
those aspiring chiefs who already contended for the empire of the world
in that celebrated capital. But a conspiracy, originating in his own house,
and fomented by the agents of Antiochus, put an end to the life of Simon
and of his eldest son, who had earned considerable reputation in the
command of armies. The duty of avenging his death and of governing a
distracted country devolved upon his younger son, afterward well known
in history by the name of John Hyrcanus.

The unhappy circumstances under which he succeeded to power compelled him
to submit for a time to the condition of vassalage; but no sooner had
Antiochus Sidetes fallen in the Parthian war, than John shook off the yoke
of Syria, and exercised the rights of an independent sovereign. He even
extended his sway beyond the Jordan, reducing several important towns to
his obedience; though the achievement which most gratified his Jewish
subjects was the capture of Shechem, followed by the demolition of the
temple on Gerizim, so long regarded as the opprobrium of the Hebrew faith.
At a later period he made himself master of Samaria and Galilee, when, to
gratify still farther the vindictive grudge which yet rankled in the
breasts of his people, he destroyed the capital of the former, and debased
it to the condition of a stagnant lake. Nor was his attention confined to
foreign conquest. He strengthened the fortifications of Jerusalem, and
built the castle of Baris within the walls which surrounded the hill of
the Temple,--a stronghold, that at a future period attracted no small
degree of notice under the name of Antonia.

The government was enjoyed during a brief space by Aristobulus, the son of
Hyrcanus, whose reign was only distinguished by the most painful domestic
calamities. The throne was next occupied by Alexander Jannaeus, a man of
ignoble birth, but of a warlike and very ambitious temper. The distracted
state of the neighbouring countries induced him to take the field, with
the view of reducing several towns on the coast of the Mediterranean,--an
undertaking which finally involved him in the troubled politics of Egypt
and Cyprus. In process of time, the severity of his measures, or the
meanness of his extraction, rendered him so unpopular at Jerusalem that
the inhabitants expelled him by force of arms. A civil war of the most
sanguinary nature raged several years, during which the insurgents invited
the assistance of Demetrius Euchaerus, one of the kings of Syria. This
measure seems to have united a large party of Jews, who were equally
hostile to the dominant faction within the city, and to the ally whom they
had called to their aid. Alexander, after having repeatedly suffered the
heaviest losses, saw himself again at the head of a powerful army, with
which he resolved to march against the rebellious capital. He inflicted a
signal punishment upon such of the unfortunate citizens as fell into his
hands; ordering nearly a thousand of them to be crucified, and their wives
and children to be butchered before their eyes.

Having fully re-established his power to the remotest parts of Palestine,
the victorious high-priest, now drawing towards the close of his days,
gave instructions to his wife for the future government of the country.
Alexandria, a woman of a vigorous mind, held the reins of civil power
with great steadiness, while her eldest son, Hyrcanus the Second, was
decorated with the sacred diadem as the head of the nation. But, unhappily,
the commotions which had disturbed the reign of her husband were again
excited, and once more divided the people into two furious parties.
Aristobulus, the younger son of Jannaeus, gave his countenance to the
body who opposed his brother, and at length threw off his disguise so
completely as to aspire to supreme power in defiance of the rights of
birth and of a legal investiture. Hyrcanus, who was far inferior to his
ambitious relative in point of talent and resolution, would probably,
after the death of their mother, have been unable to keep his seat on the
throne, had he not received the powerful aid of Antipatar, a son of
Antipas, the governor of Idumea. Both sides were making preparation for an
appeal to arms, when the Romans, who had already overrun the finest parts
of Syria, advanced into the province of Palestine in the character at once
of umpires and of allies.

Pompey readily listened to the claims of the two competitors, but deferred
coming to an immediate decision; having resolved, as it afterward
appeared, that neither of the kinsmen should continue any longer to
possess the civil and military command of Judea. Aristobulus, impatient of
delay, and having no confidence in the goodness of his cause, had recourse
to arms, and at length shut himself up in Jerusalem. The Roman general
issued orders to his lieutenant Gabinius to invest the holy city; which,
after a siege of three months, was taken by assault at a great expense of
human life.

Many of the priests who were employed in the duties of their office fell
victims to the rage of the soldiers; while others, unable to witness the
desecration of their Temple by the presence of idolaters, threw themselves
from the rock on which that building stood. Induced by curiosity, the
rival of Caesar imitated the profane boldness of Antiochus, penetrating
into the Holy of Holies, and examining all the instruments of a worship
which differed so much from that of all other nations. But Pompey was more
politic, or more generous than the Syrian monarch; for although he found
much treasure in the sanctuary as well as many vessels of gold and silver,
he carried nothing away. He expressed much astonishment that, in a fane so
magnificent, and frequented by Jews from all parts of the earth, there
should be no material form, statue, nor picture to represent the Deity to
whose honour it was erected. Having, in order to satisfy the scruples of
the people, ordered a purification of the Temple, he renewed the
appointment of Hyrcanus to the high priesthood, but without any civil
power; while in respect to the more turbulent Aristobulus, he resolved to
exercise the right of a conqueror, by sending him and his two sons to
Rome, that they might swell the train of his approaching triumph.

The escape of one of these young men, and afterward of the father himself,
rekindled the flame of war in Palestine. But the Romans under Gabinius
and the celebrated Mark Antony, speedily subdued the hasty levies of
Aristobulus, and completely re-established the ascendency of the Republic
in all the revolted districts. In the civil war which ensued, Antipater,
who still directed the affairs of the weak-minded Hyrcanus, paid his court
so successfully to the dominant faction as to obtain for his master the
protection of Caesar, and for himself the procuratorship of Judea. Raised
to this commanding eminence, he named Phasael, his eldest son, governor of
Jerusalem, and confided to the younger, the artful and unscrupulous Herod,
the charge of Galilee.

But there still remained an individual belonging to the family of
Aristobulus, who, having found refuge among the Parthians, led a powerful
army of that people into Syria, and finally invested Jerusalem. The
invaders, after obtaining possession of the city, deprived Hyrcanus of the
priesthood and Phasael of his life; the barbarian soldiers, meantime,
committing pillage on all classes, both within the walls and in the
adjoining country. Herod, warned by his less fortunate relative in the
capital, had fled to Rome, with the view, it is said, of recommending the
interests of another Aristobulus, a grandson of Hyrcanus, and brother of
the beautiful Mariamne, to whom he himself was already betrothed. Octavius
and Antony, however, thought it morn expedient for their rising empire
that Herod should wear the vassal crown of Judea in his own person, rather
than see it placed on the head of an inexperienced youth; and as the son
of Antipater was about to unite himself with a descendant of the Asmonean
princes, it was considered that the claims of each family would be thereby
fully satisfied.

The reign of Herod, who, to distinguish him from others of the same name,
is usually called the Great, was no less remarkable for domestic calamity
than for public peace and happiness. Urged by suspicion, he put to death
his beloved wife,[47] her mother, brother, grandfather, uncle, and two
sons. His palace was the scene of incessant intrigue, misery, and
bloodshed; his nearest relations being even the chief instruments of his
worst sufferings and fears. It was, perhaps, to divert his apprehensions
and remorse that he employed so much of his time in the labours of
architecture. Besides a royal residence on Mount Zion, he built a number
of citadels throughout the country, and laid the foundations of several
splendid towns. Among these was Cesarea, a station well selected both for
strength and commerce, and destined to become, under a different
government, a place of considerable importance.

But the impurity of his blood as an Idumean, and his undisguised
attachment to the religion of his Gentile masters, created an obstacle to
a complete understanding with his subjects, which no degree of personal
kindness, or of wisdom and munificence in the conduct of public affairs,
could ever entirely remove. At length he determined on a measure which, he
hoped, would at the same time employ the people and ingratiate himself
with the higher classes--the rebuilding of the temple in its former
splendour and greatness. The lapse of five hundred years, and the ravage
of successive wars, had much impaired the structure of Zerubbabel. As it
was necessary to remove the dilapidated parts of the edifice before the
new building could be begun, the Jews looked on with a suspicious eye;
apprehensive lest the king, under pretence of doing honour to their faith,
should obliterate every vestige of their ancient sanctuary. But the
prudence of Herod calmed their fears; the work proceeded with the greatest
regularity, and the nation saw, with the utmost joy, a fabric of stately
architecture crowning the brow of Mount Moriah with glittering masses of
white marble and pinnacles of gold. Yet during this pious undertaking the
Jewish monarch maintained his double character; presiding at the Olympic
games, granting large donations for their support, and even allowing
himself to be nominated president of this pagan festival.[48]

As he advanced towards old age his troubles multiplied, and his
apprehensions were increased, till, at length, four years anterior to the
common era of Christianity, Herod sank under the pressure of a loathsome
disease. He was permitted by the Romans so far to exercise the privileges
of an independent prince as to distribute by will the inheritance of
sovereignty among the more favoured of his children; and in virtue of this
indulgence he assigned to Archelaus the government of Idumea, Samaria, and
Judea, while he bestowed upon Antipas a similar authority over Peraea and

But the young princes required the sanction of the Roman emperor, whom
they both regarded as their liege lord; and with that view repaired to the
capital of Italy. The will of the late king was acknowledged and confirmed
by Augustus, who was moreover pleased to give to Herod Philip, their elder
brother, the provinces of Auranitis, Trachonitis, Paneas, and Batanea.
Achelaus, the metropolis of whose dominions was Jerusalem, ruled in
quality of ethnarch about nine years; but so little to the satisfaction
either of his master at Rome or of the people whom he was appointed to
govern, that at the end of this period he was summoned to render an
account of his administration at the imperial tribunal, when he was
deprived of his power and wealth, and finally banished into Gaul. Judea
was now reduced to a Roman province, dependent on the prefecture of Syria,
though usually place under the inspection of a subordinate officer, called
the procurator or governor. Thus the sceptre passed away from Judah, and
the lawgiver descended from the family of Jacob ceased to enjoy power
within the confines of the Promised Land.

No reader can require to be reminded, that it was at this epoch, in the
last year of the reign of Herod, the Messias was born, and conveyed into
Egypt for security. The unjust and cruel government of Archelaus, for
which, as has just been related, he was stripped of his authority by the
head of the empire, was probably the cause why the holy family did not
again take up their residence in Judea, but preferred the milder rule of
Antipas. When Joseph "heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea in the room
of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being
warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: and
he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth."[49]

The first thirty years of the Christian era did not pass away without
several insurrections on the part of the Jews, and repeated acts of
severity and extortion inflicted upon them by their stern conquerors.
The commotion excited by Judas, called the Gallilean, is regarded by
historians as one of the most important of those ebullitions which were
constantly breaking forth among that inflammatory people, not only on
account of its immediate consequences, but for the effects produced on
the national character, in regard to the speculative tenets connected
with tribute and submission to a heathen government.

Upon the exile of Archelaus, the prefecture of Syria was committed to
Publius Sulpicius Quirinius. This commander is mentioned in the Gospel of
St. Luke by the name of Cyrenius, and is described as the person under
whom the taxing was first made in that province. Hence we may conclude,
that the enrolment which took place at the birth of our Saviour was merely
a census, comprehending the numbers, and perhaps the wealth and station of
the several classes of the people.

It was about the twenty-sixth year of our epoch that Pontius Pilate was
nominated to the government of Judea. Ignorant or indifferent as to the
prejudices of the Jews, he roused among them a spirit of the most active
resentment, by displaying the image of the emperor in Jerusalem, and by
seizing part of their sacred treasure for the purposes of general
improvement. As the fiery temper of the inhabitants drove them, on most
occasions, to acts of violence, he did not hesitate to employ force in
return; and we find, accordingly, that his administration was dishonoured
by several acts of military execution directed against Jews and Samaritans
indiscriminately. His severity towards the latter people finally led to
his recall and disgrace about the year 36, when Vitellius, the father of
the future emperor of the same name, presided over the affairs of the
Syrian province.

The plan of our work does not permit us to do more than allude to the
great event which took place at Jerusalem under the auspices of Pilate.
We may nevertheless observe, that the narrative of the gospel is in strict
harmony with the character, not only of the time to which it refers,
but also of all the persons whose acts it describes. The expectation of
the Jews when Jesus of Nazareth first appeared,--their subsequent
disappointment and rage--their hatred and impatience of the Roman
government,--the perplexity of the military chief, and the motive which at
length induced him to sacrifice the innocent person who was listed before
him, are facts which display the most perfect accordance with the tone of
civil history at that remarkable period.

During the troubles which agitated Judea, the districts that owned the
sovereignty of Antipas and Philip, namely, Galilee and the country beyond
the Jordan, enjoyed comparative quiet. The former, who is the Herod
described by our Saviour as "that fox," was a person of a cool and rather
crafty disposition, and might have terminated his long reign in peace, had
not Herodias, whom he seduced from his brother--the second prince just
mentioned--irritated his ambition by pointing to the superior rank of his
nephew, Herod Agrippa, whom Caligula had been pleased to raise to a
provincial throne. Urged by his wife to solicit a similar elevation, he
presented himself at Rome, and obtained an audience of the emperor; but
the successor of Tiberius was so little pleased with his conduct on this
occasion, that he divested him of the tetrarchy, and banished him into

The death of Herod Philip and the degradation of the Galilean tetrarch
paved the way for the advancement of Agrippa to all the honour and power
which had belonged to the family of David. He was permitted to reign over
the whole of Palestine, having under his direction the usual number of
Roman troops, which experience had proved to be necessary for the peace of
a province at once so remote and so turbulent. The only event that
disturbed the tranquillity of his government was an insane resolution
expressed by Caligula to place his own statue in the temple of Jerusalem,
as an object of respect, if not of positive and direct worship to the
whole Jewish nation. The prudence of the Syrian prefect, and the influence
which Agrippa still possessed over the mind of his imperial friend,
prevented the horrors that must have arisen from the attempt to desecrate,
in this odious manner, a sanctuary deemed most holy by every descendant of

But no position could be more difficult to hold with safety and reputation
than that which was occupied by this Hebrew prince. He was assailed on the
one hand by the jealousy of the Roman deputies, and on the other by the
suspicion of his own countrymen, who could never divest themselves of the
fear that his foreign education had rendered him indifferent to the rites
of the Mosaical law. To satisfy the latter, he spared no expense in
conferring magnificence on the daily service of the temple, while he put
forth his hand to persecute the Christian church in the persons of St.
Peter and James the brother of John. To remove every ground of disloyalty
from the eyes of the political agents who were appointed by Claudius to
watch his conduct, he ordered a splendid festival at Cesarea in honour of
the new emperor; on which occasion, when arrayed in the moat gorgeous
attire, certain words of adulation reached his ear, not fit to be
addressed to a Jewish monarch. The result will be best described in the
words of sacred Scripture: "And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal
apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the
people gave a shout, saying, it is the voice of a god, and not of a man.
And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God
the glory; and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost."[50] He left
a son and three daughters, of whom Agrippa, Bernice, and Drusilla make a
conspicuous figure towards the close of the book of Acts. These events
took place between the fortieth and the forty-fifth years of the Christian

The youth and inexperience of the prince dictated to the Roman government
the propriety of assuming once more the entire direction of Jewish
affairs. The prefecture of Syria was confided to Cassius Longinus, under
whom served, as procurator of Judea, Caspius Fadus, a stern though an
upright soldier. But the impatience and hatred of the people were now
inflamed to such a degree, that gentleness and severity were equally
unavailing to preserve the tranquillity of the country. Impostors appeared
on every hand, proclaiming deliverance to the oppressed children of Jacob,
and provoking the more impetuous among their brethren to take up arms
against the Romans. Various conflicts ensued, in which the discipline of
the legions hardly ever failed to disperse or destroy the tumultuary bands
who, under such unhappy auspices, attempted to restore the kingdom to
Israel. The holy city, which was from time to time beleaguered by both
parties, sustained material injury from the furious assaults of pagan
and Jew alternately. The predictions of its downfall, already circulated
among the Christians, began to mingle with the shouts of its fanatical
inhabitants; and already, even at the accession of Agrippa the Second to
his limited sovereignty, every thing portended that miserable consummation
which at no distant period closed the temporal scene of Hebrew hope and

Every succeeding day witnessed the progress of that ferocious sect founded
on the opinions of Judas the Gaulonite, who acknowledged no sovereign but
Jehovah, and who constantly denounced as the greatest of all sins those
payments or services by means of which a heathenish government was
supported. In prosecuting their revolutionary schemes; they esteemed no
man's life dear, and set as little value upon their own. Devoted to the
principles of a frantic patriotism, they were content to sacrifice to its
claims the clearest dictates of humanity and religion; being at all times
ready to bind themselves by an oath that they would neither eat nor drink
until they had slain the enemy of their nation or of their God. This was
the school which supplied that execrable faction, who added tenfold to the
miseries of Jerusalem in the day of her visitation, and who contributed
more than all the legions of Rome to realize the bitterness of the curse
which was poured upon her devoted head.

A succession of unprincipled governors, who were sent forth to enrich
themselves on the spoils of the Syrian provinces, accelerated the crisis
of Judea. About the middle of the first century the notorious Felix was
appointed to the government, who, in the administration of affairs,
habitually combined violence with fraud, sending out his soldiers to
inflict punishment on such as had not the means or the inclination to
bribe his clemency. An equal stranger to righteousness and temperance, he
presented a fine subject for the eloquence of St. Paul, who it is
presumed, however, made the profligate governor tremble, without either
affecting his religious principles or improving his moral conduct.

The short residence of Festus procured for the unhappy Jews a respite from
oppression. He laboured successfully to put down the bands of insurgents,
whose ravages were inflicted indiscriminately upon foreigners and their
own countrymen; nor was he less active in checking the excesses of the
military, so long accustomed to rapine and free quarter. Agrippa at the
same time transferred the seat of his government to Jerusalem, where his
presence served to moderate the rage of parties, and thereby to postpone
the final rupture between the provincials and their imperial master. But
this brief interval of repose was followed by an increased degree of
irritation and fury. Florus, alike distinguished for his avarice and
cruelty, and who saw in the contentions of the people the readiest means
for filling his own coffers, connived at the mutual hostility which it was
his duty to prevent. In this nefarious policy he received the countenance
of Cestius Gallus, the prefect of Syria, who, imitating the maxims of
his lieutenant, studiously drove the natives to insurrection, in order
that their cries for justice might be drowned amid the clash of arms.

But he forgot that there are limits to endurance even among the most
humble and abject. Unable to support the weight of his tyranny, and galled
by certain insults directed against their faith, the Jewish inhabitants of
Cesarea set his power at defiance, and declared their resolution to repel
his injuries by force. The capital was soon actuated by a similar spirit,
and made preparations for defence. Cestius marched to the gates, and
demanded an entrance for the imperial cohorts, whose aid was required to
support the garrison within. The citizens, refusing to comply; anticipated
the horrors of a siege, when after a few days they saw, to their great
surprise, the Syrian prefect in full retreat carrying with him his
formidable army. Sallying from the different outlets with arms in their
hands, they pursued the fugitives with the usual fury of an incensed
multitude; and, overtaking their enemy at the narrow pass of Bethhoron,
they avenged the cause of independence by a considerable slaughter of the
legionary soldiers, and by driving the remainder to an ignominious flight.

Nero received the intelligence of this defeat while amusing himself in
Greece, and immediately sent Vespasian into Syria to assume the
government, with instructions to restore peace of the province by moderate
concessions or by the most vigorous warfare. It was in the year
sixty-seven that this great commander entered Judea, accompanied by his
son, the celebrated Titus. The result is too well known to require
details. A series of sanguinary battles deprived the Jews of their
principal towns one after another, until they were at length shut up in
Jerusalem; the siege and final reduction of which compose one of the most
affecting stories that are anywhere recorded in the annals of the human


_On the Literature and Religious Usages of the Ancient Hebrews_.

Obscurity of the Subject; Learning issued from the Levitical Colleges;
Schools of the Prophets; Music and Poetry; Meaning of the term Prophecy;
Illustrated by References to the Old Testament and to the New; The power
of Prediction not confined to those bred in the Schools; Race of false
Prophets; Their Malignity and Deceit; Micaiah and Ahab; Charge against
Jeremiah the Prophet; Criterion to distinguish True from False Prophets;
The Canonical Writings of the Prophets; Literature of Prophets; Sublime
Nature of their Compositions; Examples from Psalms and Prophetical
Writings; Humane and liberal Spirit; Care used to keep alive the
Knowledge of the Law; Evils arising from the Division of lsrael and
Judah; Ezra collects the Ancient Books; Schools of Prophets similar to
Convents; Sciences; Astronomy; Division of Time, Days Months, and Years;
Sabbaths and New Moons; Jewish Festivals; Passover; Pentecost; Feast of
Tabernacles; Of Trumpets; Jubilee; Daughters of Zelophedad; Feast of
Dedication; Minor Anniversaries; Solemn Character of Hebrew Learning;
Its easy Adaptation to Christianity; Superior to the Literature of all
other ancient Nations.

There is no subject on which greater obscurity prevails than that of the
learning and schools of the Hebrews prior to their return from the
Babylonian Captivity. The wise institution of Moses, which provided for
the maintenance of Levitical towns in all the tribes, secured at least an
hereditary knowledge of the law, including both its civil and its
spiritual enactments. It is extremely probable, therefore, that all the
varieties of literary attainment which might he deemed necessary, either
for the discharge of professional duties or for the ornament of private
life, were derived from those seminaries, and partook largely of their
general character and spirit. An examination of the scanty remains of that
remote period will justify, to a considerable extent, the conjecture now
made. It will appear that the poetry, the ethics, the oratory, the music,
and even the physical science cultivated in the time of Samuel and David
bore a close relation to the original object of the Levitical colleges,
and were meant to promote the principles of religion and morality, no less
than of that singular patriotism which made the Hebrew delight in his
separation from all other nations of the earth.

Our attention is first attracted by the several allusions which are
scattered over the earlier books of the Old Testament to the schools of
the prophets. These were establishments obviously intended to prepare
young men for certain offices analogous to those which are discharged in
our days by the different orders of the clergy; maintained in some degree
at the public expense; and placed under the superintendence of persons who
were distinguished for their gravity and high endowments. The principal
studies pursued in these convents appear to have been poetry and music,
the elements of which were necessary to the young prophet when he was
called to take a part in the worship of Jehovah. In the book of Samuel we
find the pupils performing on psalteries, tabrets, and harps; and in the
first section of the Chronicles it is said that the sons of Asaph, of
Heman, and of Jeduthan prophesied with harps, with psalteries, and with
cymbals. For the same reason Miriam the sister of Moses is called a
prophetess. When preparing to chant her song of triumph, upon the
destruction of the Egyptians at the Red Sea, "she took a timbrel in her
hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances."

On a similar ground is the expression to be interpreted when used by St.
Paul in the eleventh chapter of his First Epistle to the Corinthians.
"Every woman praying or prophesying with her head uncovered dishononreth
her head;" that is, every female who takes a part in the devotions of the
Christian Church,--the supplications and the praises,--ought, according to
the practice of eastern nations, to have her face concealed in a veil, as
becoming the modesty of her sex in a mixed congregation. The term
prophesy, in this instance, must be restricted to the use of psalmody,
because exposition or exhortation in public was not permitted to the
women, who were not allowed to speak or even to ask a question in a place
of worship. Nay, the same apostle applies the title of prophet to those
persons among the heathen who composed or uttered songs in praise of their
gods. In his Epistle to Titus he alludes to the people of Crete in these
words, "one of themselves, even a prophet of their own, has said, the
Cretans were always liars." And every classical scholar is perfectly aware
that in the language of pagan antiquity a poet and a prophet were
synonymous appellations.

But the function of the prophet was not confined to the duty of praise and
thanksgiving; it also implied the ability to expound and enforce the
principles of the Mosaical Law. He was entitled to exhort and entreat; and
we accordingly find that the greater portion of the prophetical writings
consist of remonstrances, rebukes, threatenings, and expostulations. In
order to be a prophet, in the Hebrew sense of the expression, it was not
necessary to be endowed with the power of foreseeing future events. It is
true that the holy men through whom the Almighty thought meet to reveal
his intentions relative to the church, were usually selected from the
order of persons now described. But there were several exceptions, among
whom stood preeminent the eloquent Daniel and the pathetic Amos. To
prophesy, therefore, in the later times of the Hebrew commonwealth meant
most generally the explication and enforcement of Divine truth--an import
of the term which was extended into the era of the New Testament, when the
more recondite sense of the phrase was almost entirely laid aside.

In truth, it should seem that even before the days of Samuel the opinions,
or rather perhaps the popular notions connected with the name and offices
of a prophet, had undergone some change, and began to point to higher
objects. Saul, when employed in seeking his father's asses, had journeyed
so far from home that he despaired of finding his way thither; and when he
was come to the land of Zuph he said to his servant, "Come, and let us
return; lest my father leave caring for the asses, and take thought for
us. And he said unto him, Behold now, there is in this city a man of God,
and he is an honourable man; all that he saith cometh surely to pass: now
let us go thither; peradventure he can show us our way that we should go.
Then said Saul to his servant, But, behold; if we go, what shall we bring
the man; for the bread is spent in our vessels, and there is not a present
to bring to the man of God; what have we? And the servant answered Saul
again, and said, Behold, I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel
of silver; that will I give to the man of God to tell us our way.
(Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he spake,
Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a prophet was
beforetime called a seer.) Then said Saul to his servant, Well said; come,
let us go. So they went unto the city where the man of God was."[51]

The description of soothsayer whom Saul and his servant had resolved to
consult is very common in all lands at a certain stage of knowledge and
civilization,--a personage who, without much reliance on Divine aid, could
amuse the curiosity of a rustic and perplex his ignorance with an
ambiguous answer. But the age of Samuel required more solid qualifications
in the prophets, and hence the term seer had already given way to that of
expounder or master of eloquence and wisdom. The expedient suggested by
the attendant of the son of Kish was very natural, and quite consistent
with his rank and habits; while the easy acquiescence which he obtained
from his master denotes the simplicity of ancient times, not less than the
untutored state of mind in which the future King of Israel had left his
parent's dwelling. Before he mounted the throne, however, he was sent to
acquire the elements of learning among the sons of the prophets; whom, in
a short time, he accompanied in their pious exercises in a manner so
elevated as to astonish every one who had formerly known the young
Benjamite; till then remarkable only for a mild disposition and great
bodily strength.

The mental bias towards prediction, which is almost unavoidably acquired
by the practice of elucidation and commentary on a dark text, soon showed
itself in the schools of the prophets. Many of them, trusting to their own
ingenuity rather than to the suggestion of the Spirit of Truth, ventured
to foretel the issue of events, and to delineate the future fortunes of
nations, as well as of individuals. Hence the race of false prophets, who
brought so much obloquy upon the whole order, and not unfrequently barred
against the approach of godly admonition the ears of those who were
actually addressed by an inspired messenger. Nay, it appears that some of
them arrogated the power of realizing the good or the evil which they were
pleased to foretel; allowing the people to believe that they were
possessed with demons, who enabled them, not only to foresee, but to
influence in no small measure the course of Providence. The impression on
the mind of Ahab in regard to Micaiah leaves no room for doubt that the
king imagined the prophet to be actuated by a malignant feeling towards
him. "I hate him," he exclaimed, "for he doth not prophesy good concerning
me, but evil." Nor was the conviction that this ungracious soothsayer
spoke from his own wishes rather than from a divine impulse confined to
the Israelitish monarch. The messenger who was sent to call Micaiah spake
unto him, saying, "Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good unto
the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of
one of them, and speak that which is good."[52]

When we consider the uncertainty which must have attended all predictions,
where the wishes or feelings of the prophet could give a different
expression to the purposes of God, we cannot any longer be surprised at
the neglect with which such announcements were frequently treated by those
to whom they were addressed. It is remarkable, too, that one prophet did
not possess the gift of ascertaining the truth or sincerity of another who
might declare that he spoke in the name of God; and hence there were no
means of determining the good faith of this order of men, except the
general evidence of a pious character, or the test of a successful
experience. For example, when Jeremish proclaimed the approaching fall of
Jerusalem, the other prophets were among the first to oppose him, saying,
"Thou shalt surely die: why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord
that this house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate
without an inhabitant?" The princes of Judah assembled in the Temple to
hear the charge repeated against this fearless minister; when again,
"spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes, and to all the
people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against
this city, as ye have heard with your ears."

It is worthy of notice, too, that the prediction which gave so much
offence was conditional and contingent, and that Jeremiah, accordingly,
incurred the hazard of suffering the severe punishment due to a false
prophet; because if the people had turned from their sins the fate of
their capital and nation would have been protracted. "The Lord sent me to
prophesy against this house, and against this city, all the words that ye
have heard. Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the
voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that
he hath pronounced against you. As for me, behold, I am in your hand; do
with me as seemeth good and meet unto you: but know ye for certain, that,
if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon
yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof; for of a
truth the Lord hath sent me unto you, to speak all these words in your

The decision of the princes was more equitable than the accusation adduced
by the priests and prophets; for according to the law of Moses no man
could be punished for predicting the most calamitous events, provided he
persevered in the assertion that he spoke in the name of Jehovah. The
divine legislator denounced the penalty of death against every prophet who
should speak in the name of any false god, or who should speak in the name
of Jehovah that which he was not commanded to speak; but, in regard to the
latter offence, the guilt could only be substantiated by the failure of
the prophecy. "And if thou say in thine heart, how shall we know the word
which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the
Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which
the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it

It is obvious, however, that in all cases where a condition was implied,
the fulfilment of the prediction could not be regarded as essential to the
establishment of the prophetic character. The capture of Jerusalem
produced the most undeniable testimony to the inspiration of Jeremiah, as
well as to the sincerity of his expostulation; yet it is well known that
his motives did not escape suspicion, and that his memory was loaded by
many of his countrymen with the charge of having favoured the Chaldeans.

It may not appear out of place to inform the young reader that the
prophets whose writings are contained in the Old Testament are in number
sixteen, and usually divided into two classes, the greater and the minor,
according to the extent of their works and the importance of their
subject. Of the former, Isaiah, who may be regarded as the chief, began to
prophesy under Uzziah, and continued till the first year of Manasseh.
Jeremiah flourished a few years before the great captivity, and lived to
witness the fulfilment of his own predictions. Ezekiel, who had been
carried into the Babylonian territory some time before the ruin of his
native country in the days of Zedekiah, began to perform his office among
the Jewish captives in the land of the Chaldees, in the fifth year after
Jehoiakim was made prisoner. Daniel, the youngest of the four, was only
twelve years of age when he was involved in the miseries of conquest, and
reduced to the condition of a dependent at a foreign court.

Among the twelve minor prophets, Jonas, Hosea, Amos, and Micah preceded
the destruction of the kingdom of Israel. Nahum and Joel appeared between
that catastrophe and the captivity of Judah. Habakkuk, Obadiah, and
Zephaniah lived at the time when Jerusalem was taken, and during part of
the captivity. Haggai, Zecharias, and Malachi, the last of the whole,
prophesied after the return from Babylon.

But our business is rather with the literature of the prophets at large
than with the special functions of the few individuals of their body who
were commissioned by Heaven to reveal the secrets of future time. Of the
fruits of their professional study we have fine examples preserved in the
Psalms of David and the Proverbs of Solomon; the former, a collection of
sacred lyrics composed for the worship of Jehovah; the latter, a compend
of practical wisdom, suggested by an enlightened experience, and expressed
in language equally striking for its divine truth and rare simplicity.

In early times the dictates of moral philosophy are enounced in short
sentences, the result of much thought, and of which the effect is usually
heightened by the introduction of a judicious antithesis both in the
sentiment and the expression. The apothegms ascribed to the wise men of
Greece belong to this kind of composition; being extremely valuable to a
rude people who can profit by the fruits of reasoning without being able
to attend to its forms, and deposite in their minds a useful precept,
unencumbered with the arguments by means of which its soundness might be
proved. The books which bear the name of Solomon are distinguished above
all others for the sage views that they exhibit of human life, and for the
sensible maxims addressed to all conditions of men who have to encounter
its manifold perils--proving a guide unto the feet and a lamp unto the

In no respect does the Hebrew nation appear to greater advantage than when
viewed in the light of their sublime compositions. Nor is this remark
confined simply to the style or mechanism of their writings, which is
nevertheless allowed by the best judges to possess many merits; but may be
extended more especially to the exalted nature of their subjects,--the
works, the attributes, and the purposes of Jehovah. The poets of pagan
antiquity, on the other hand, excite by their descriptions of divine
things our ridicule or disgust. Even the most approved of their order
exhibit repulsive images of their deities, and suggest the grossest ideas
in connexion with the principles and enjoyments which prevail among the
inhabitants of Olympus. But the contemporaries of David, inferior in many
things to the ingenious people who listened to the strains of Homer and of
Virgil, are remarkable for their elevated conceptions of the Supreme Being
as the Creator and Governor of the world, not less than for the suitable
terms in which they give utterance to their exalted thoughts.

In no other country but Judea, at that early period, were such sentiments
as the following either expressed or felt. "O Jehovah, our Lord, how
excellent is thy name in all the earth, thou that hast set thy glory above
the heavens! When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the
moon and the stars which thou has ordained; what is man, that thou art
mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Bless Jehovah,
O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great, and art clothed with honour
and majesty! Thou coverest thyself with light as with a garment, and
stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: who layeth the beams of his
chambers in the waters, who maketh the clouds his chariot, and walketh
upon the wings of the wind! Bless Jehovah, O my soul, and all that is
within me, bless his holy name. Bless Jehovah, O my soul, and forget not
all his benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy
diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with
loving-kindness and tender mercies. Jehovah is merciful and gracious, slow
to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He hath not dealt with us after our
sins, neither rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven
is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
For he knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are dust."--"O Lord, thou
hast searched me and known me: thou knowest my downsitting and mine
uprising, thou understandest my thoughts long before. Thou art about my
bed and about my path, and art acquainted with all my ways. Whither shall
I go from thy spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I
ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I go down to the dwelling of the
departed, thou art there also. If I take the wings of the morning and
abide in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead
me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, surely the darkness shall
cover me, even the night shall be turned into day. Yea, the darkness is no
darkness with thee, but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the
light are both alike to thee."

A similar train of lofty conception pervades the writings of the prophets.
"Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out the
heavens with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure,
and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Behold,
the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust
of the balance; be taketh up the isles as a very little thing. It is he
that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are
as grass-hoppers. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created
these things, who bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all
by names, by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power,
no one faileth. Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the
everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth; fainteth
not, neither is weary! There is no searching of his understanding."

The following quotation from the same inspired author is very striking,
inasmuch as the truth contained in it is founded upon an enlarged view of
the Divine government, and directly pointed against that insidious
Manicheism, which, originating in the East, has gradually infected the
religious opinions of a large portion of mankind. Light was imagined to
proceed from one source, add darkness from another; all good was traced do
one being, and all evil was ascribed to a hostile and antagonist
principle. Spirit, pure and happy, arose from the former; while matter,
with its foul propensities and jarring elements, took its rise from the
latter. But Isaiah, guided by an impulse which supersedes the inferences
of the profoundest philosophy, thus speaks concerning the God of the
Hebrews:--"I am the Lord, and there is none else; there is no God besides
me: I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace and create evil;
I, the Lord, do all these things."

But it is not only in such sublimity of language and exalted imagery that
the literature of the Hebrews surpasses the writings of the most learned
and ingenious portion of the heathen world. A distinction not less
remarkable is to be found in the humane and compassionate spirit which
animates even the earliest parts of the sacred volume; composed at a time
when the manners of all nations were still unrefined, and the softer
emotions were not held in honour. "Blessed is he who considereth the poor
and needy; the Lord will deliver him in the time of trouble. The Lord will
preserve him and keep him alive; he shall be blessed upon earth, and thou
wilt not deliver him into the will of his enemies. The Lord will
strengthen him upon the bed of languishing; thou wilt make all his bed in
his sickness."

We shall in vain seek for instances of such a benign and liberal feeling
in the volumes of the most enlightened of pagan writers, whether poets or
orators. How beautifully does the following observation made by Solomon
contrast with the contempt expressed by Horace for the great body of his
countrymen:--"He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth; but he that bath
mercy on the poor happy is he. He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his

Among the Israelites there was no distinction as to literary privilege or
philosophical sectarianism. There was no profane vulgar in the chosen
people. The stores of Divine knowledge were open to all alike. The
descendant of Jacob beheld in every member of his tribe a brother, and not
a master; one who in all the respects which give to man dignity and
self-esteem was his equal in the strictest sense of the term. Hence the
noble flame of patriotism which glowed in all the Hebrew institutions
before the people became corrupted by idolatry and a too frequent
intercourse with the surrounding tribes; and hence, too, the still more
noble spirit of fraternal affection which breathed in their ancient law,
their devotional writers, and their prophets.

It is worthy of remark, that in order to prevent any part of the sacred
oracles from becoming obsolete or falling into oblivion, the inspired
lawgiver left an injunction to read the books which bear his name, in the
hearing of all the people, at the end of every seven years at farthest.
"And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests, the sons of
Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the
elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every
seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of
tabernacles, when all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in
the place which he shall choose, thou shaft read this law before all
Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, and women, and
children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear,
and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all
the words of this law: and that their children which have not known any
thing may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in
the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it."[55]

The value of the Levitical institution, whence originated the schools of
the prophets, will be the moat highly appreciated by those readers who
have noted the evils which arose from its suppression among the ten
tribes, and finally, in the kingdom of Judah itself. The separation of the
Israelites under Jeroboam led, in the first instance, to a defection from
the Mosaic ritual, and, in the end, to the establishment of a rival
worship,--a revolution which compelled all the Levites who remained
attached to the primitive faith to desert such of their cities as belonged
to the revolted tribes, and to seek an asylum among their brethren who
acknowledged the successor of Solomon. Hence the reign of idolatry and
that total neglect of the law which disgraced the government of the new
dynasty; though it must be granted, that with a view to perpetuate their
relationship to the father of the faithful, the people preserved certain
copies of the Pentateuch, even after the desolation of their land and the
complete extinction of their political independence.

It is more surprising to find, that even among the orthodox Hebrews at
Jerusalem the law sank into a gradual oblivion; insomuch that in the days
of Jehosophat, the fifth from David, it was found necessary to appoint a
special commission of Levites and priests to revive the knowledge of its
holy sanctions in all parts of the country. "And they taught in Judah, and
had the book of the law of the Lord with them, and went about throughout
all the cities of Judah, and taught the people."[56]

At a later period, after a succession of idolatrous princes, the neglect
of the Mosaical writings became still more general, till at length the
very manuscript, or book of the law, which used to be read in the ears of
the congregation, could nowhere be found. Josiah, famed for his piety and
attention to the ceremonies of the national religion, gave orders to
repair the Temple for the worship of Jehovah; on which occasion, Hilkiah,
the high-priest, found the precious record in the house of the Lord, and
sent it to the king.[57] A momentary zeal bound the people once more to
the belief and usages of their ancestors; but the example of the profane
or careless sovereigns who afterward filled the throne of Josiah plunged
the country once more into guilt, obliterating all recollection of the
divine statutes, at least as a code of public law. The captivity throws a
temporary cloud over the Hebrew annals, and prevents us from tracing
beyond that point the progress of opinion on this interesting subject. But
upon the return from Babylon a new era commences; and we now observe the
same people, who in their prosperity were constantly deviating into the
grossest superstitions and most contemptible idolatry, remarkable for a
rigid adherence to the ritual of Moses, and for a severe intolerance
towards all who questioned its heavenly origin or its universal
obligation. Ezra is understood to have charged himself with the duty of
collecting and arranging the manuscripts which had survived the desolation
inflicted upon his country by the arms of Assyria, at the same time
substituting for the more ancient characters usually known as the
Samaritan the Chaldean alphabet, to which his followers had now become
accustomed. From these notices, however, which respect a later period, we
return to the more primitive times immediately succeeding the era of the

We have ascribed the cultivation of sacred knowledge to the schools of the
prophets, without having been able to trace very distinctly the
institution of these seminaries to the Levitical colleges, the proper
fountains of the national literature. In the days of Samuel, it would
appear that the necessity of certain subordinate establishments had been
admitted, in order to supply a class of persons qualified to instruct such
of the people as lived at a distance from the cities of the Levites. The
rule of the prophetical schools seems to have borne some resemblance to
that of the better description of Christian convents in the primitive
ages, enjoining abstinence and labour, together with an implicit obedience
to the authority of their superiors. The clothing, also, it may be
presumed, was humble, and somewhat peculiar. A rough garment fastened with
a girdle round the loins is alluded to by Zechariah; while the impression
made on the courtiers at Ramoth-gilead by the appearance of one of the
sons of the prophets sent thither by Elisha would lead us to the same
conclusion. "Wherefore," said they, "came this mad fellow to thee?" Nor is
it without reason that some authors have attributed the conduct of the
children who mocked Elieha to the uncouthness of his dress and to the want
of a covering for his head. Be this as it may, there is no doubt that from
the societies now mentioned sprang the most distinguished men who adorned
the happiest era of the Jewish church.

Were we allowed to form a judgment from the few incidents recorded in the
books of the Kings, we should conclude that the accomplishment of writing
was not very general among the subjects of David and Solomon. It is
ingeniously conjectured by Michaelis, that Joab, the captain of the host,
and sister's son of the inspired monarch himself, could not handle the
pen; else he would not, for the purpose of concealing from the bearer the
real object for which he was sent, have found it necessary to tax his
ingenuity by putting the very suspicious detail of Uriah's death into the
mouth of a messenger to be delivered verbally to the king. He would at
once have written to him that the devoted man was killed.[58]

As to science in its higher branches, we can not expect any proofs of
eminence among a secluded people, devoted, as the Hebrews were, to the
pursuits of agriculture and the feeding of cattle. Solomon, indeed, is
said to have been acquainted with all the productions of nature, from the
cedar of Libanus to the hyssop on the wall; and we may readily believe,
that the curiosity which distinguished his temper would find some
gratification in the researches of natural history,--the first study of
the opening mind in the earliest stage of social life. But astronomy had
not advanced farther than to present an interesting subject of
contemplation to the pious mind, which could only regard the firmament as
a smooth surface spread out like a curtain, or bearing some resemblance to
the canopy of a spacious tent. The schools of the prophets, we may
presume, were still strangers to those profound calculations which
determine the distance, the magnitude, and the periodical revolutions of
the heavenly bodies. Even the sages of Chaldea, who boast a more ancient
civilization than is claimed by the Hebrews, satisfied themselves with a
few facts which they had not learned to generalize, and sometimes with
conjectures which had hardy any relation to a fixed principle or a
scientific object. Long after the reign of David, these wise men had not
distinguished the study of the stars from the dreams of astrology.

The first application of astronomical principle is to the division of
time, as marked out by the periodical movements of the heavenly bodies.
The Hebrews combined in their calculations a reference to the sun and to
the moon, so as to avail themselves of the natural measure supplied by
each. Their year accordingly was lunisolar, consisting of twelve lunar
months, with an intercalation to make the whole agree with the annual
course of the sun. The year was further distinguished as being either
common or ecclesiastical. The former began at the autumnal equinox, the
season at which they imagined the world was created; while the latter, by
Divine appointment, commenced about six months earlier, the period when
their fathers were delivered from the thraldom of Egypt. Their months
always began with the new moon; and before the captivity they were merely
named according to their order, the first, second, third, and so on down
to the twelfth. But upon their return they used the terms which they found
employed in Babylon, according to the following series:--

Nisan[59] March.
Zif, or Ijar April.
Sivan May.
Tamuz June.
Ab July.
Elul August.
Ethanim, or Tisri September.
Bul, or Mareshuan October.
Chisleu November.
Tebeth December.
Sebat January.
Adar February.

One-half of these months consisted of thirty days, the other of
twenty-nine, alternately making in all three hundred and fifty-four. To
supply the eleven days and six hours which were deficient, they introduced
every second year an additional month of twenty-two days, and every fourth
year one of twenty-three days; by which means they approached as nearly to
the true measure as any other nation had attained till the establishment
of the Gregorian calendar.

The Hebrews divided the space from sunrise to sunset into twelve equal
parts, and hence the hours of their day varied in length according to the
season of the year. For example, when the sun rose at five and set at
seven, an hour contained seventy minutes; but when it rose at seven and
set at five, the hour was reduced to fifty minutes, and so on in
proportion to the duration of the time that the sun was above the horizon.
A similar rule applied to the night, which was likewise divided into
twelve equal portions.

It must be acknowledged, however, that the observations now made apply
rather to the acquirements of the Jews after their return from the East,
than to the more simple condition in which they appear under their judges
and prophets.

Next to the learning of this early period, the reader of the sacred
history will have his curiosity excited in regard to the time, the place,
and the manner of religious worship. When the Israelites had obtained
possession of the Holy Land, and distributed the territory among their
tribes, the tabernacle, or ambulatory temple, was placed at Shiloh, a town
in the possession of Ephraim. To that sacred retreat the Hebrews were wont
to travel at the three great festivals, to accomplish the service enjoined
by their law.

But it appears that a more ordinary kind of religious duty was performed
at certain stations within the several tribes, in the intervals between
the stated feasts appointed fur the whole nation; having some reference,
it is probable, to the periodical return of the Sabbath and new moons. For
this purpose the people seem to have repaired to high places, where they
might more readily perceive the lunar crescent, and give utterance to
their customary expression of gratitude and joy. This species of adoration
was connived at rather than authorized by the priests and Levites, who
found it impossible to check altogether the propensity of the multitude to
perform their worship on the high hill and under the green tree. Samuel,
the prophet and judge, saw the expediency on one occasion of building an
altar unto the Lord on Ramah, which is called the High Place; and in the
reign of Solomon the same practice was confirmed, "because there was no
house built unto the name of the Lord until those days."[60]

It is difficult to determine with precision at what epoch the Hebrews
first formed those meetings or congregations which are called
synagogues,--a name afterward more frequently applied to the buildings in
which they convened. The earliest allusion to them is found in the
seventy-fourth Psalm, where the writer, describing the havoc committed by
the Assyrians, remarks, "they have burnt up all the synagogues of God in
the land." We might infer, from this statement alone, that such edifices
were common before the Babylonian captivity; but we are supplied with a
more direct proof in the words of St. James, who informs us that "Moses of
old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the
synagogues every Sabbath-day."[61]

The duty in these places, which was confined to prayer and exposition, was
performed by that section of the Levites who are usually denominated
scribes; the higher office of sacrifice, the scene of which was first the
tabernacle and afterward the temple, being confined to the priests, the
sons of Aaron. Perhaps in remote places, where the population was small,
the inhabitants met in the house of the Levite, a conjecture which derives
some plausibility from an affecting incident mentioned in the second book
of the Kings. When the son of the woman of Shunem died, "she called unto
her husband and said, send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one
of the asses, that I may run to the man of God. And he said, wherefore
wilt thou go? it is neither new moon nor Sabbath." It is reasonable to
conclude, that on these days it was customary to repair to the dwelling of
the holy man for religious purposes.

We have already alluded to the fact, that at the first settlement of the
Promised Land the tabernacle was established in Shiloh, a village in
Ephraim, at that time the most numerous and powerful of all the tribes.
The profanity or, disobedience of the people in this district led to the
removal of the Divine presence, the symbols of which were commanded to be
deposited in Jerusalem. "Go ye," says the prophet Jeremiah, "unto my place
which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first; and see what I did
to it for the wickedness of my people Israel." Hence the origin of the
feud which subsisted so long between Ephraim and Judah, and afterward
between the Jews and Samaritans, in regard to the spot where Jehovah ought
to be worshipped. Each laid claim to a Divine appointment; neither would
yield to the other or hold the slightest intercourse in their adoration of
the same great Being; and the question remained as far as ever from being
determined when the Romans finally cut down all distinctions by their
victorious arms.

Our limits will not permit us to indulge in a minute account of the Jewish
festivals. Still the three great institutions at which all the males of
the Hebrew nation were commanded to appear before Jehovah are so
frequently mentioned in the history of the Holy Land, that we must take
leave to specify their general objects. The feast of the Passover,
comprehending that of unleavened bread, commemorated the signal
deliverance of this wonderful people from the tyranny of Pharaoh. It was
to be kept upon the fifteenth day of the first month, to last seven days,
and to begin, as all their festivals began, the evening before at the
going down of the sun.

The reader will attend to the distinction just stated--the beginning and
end of their sacred days. The celebration of the ordinary Sabbath, indeed,
commenced on the evening of Friday, and terminated at the going down of
the sun on Saturday. "From even unto even shall ye celebrate your
Sabbaths." But the Jews, in the concluding period of their government, had
innovated so far on the Mosaical institution as to prohibit the passover
from being observed on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, and to appoint the
celebration of it on the following day. The year in which our Lord
suffered death this great annual feast fell on a Friday--beginning, as
already stated, at sunset on Thursday evening--and the Redeemer
accordingly, who came to fulfil all righteousness, ate the paschal supper
with his disciples on the evening of Thursday. Yet the Jews, we find from
the evangelical narrative, were not to observe that rite till the
following evening; and hence, the early part of Friday being the
preparation, they would not go into the judgment hall "lest they should be
defiled, but that they might eat the passover" after the going down of the
sun. For the same reason they besought Pilate that the bodies might be
removed; intimating that the day which was to begin at sunset was to them
a high day, being in fact not only the Sabbath, but also the paschal
feast, both extremely solemn in the estimation of every true Israelite.

On the ground now stated is easily explained the apparent discrepancy
between the account given by St. John and that of the other Evangelists.
They tell us that our Lord celebrated the passover on Thursday evening the
first day of the yearly festival; whereas the beloved disciple relates,
that the neat morning was still the preparation of that ordinance which
was to be observed by the whole nation the ensuing night. Both statements
are perfectly correct; only our Saviour adhered to the day fixed by the
original institution, while the priests and lawyers followed the rule
established by the Sanhedrim, which threw the festival a day after its
proper time.

The proper preparation indeed of every festival began only at three
o'clock, called by the Hebrews the ninth hour, and continued till the
close of the day, or the disappearance of the sun. It was at that hour,
accordingly, that the Jews entreated the governor to take down the bodies
from the cross; holding it extremely improper that any token of a curse or
capital punishment should meet their eyes while making ready to kill the
paschal lamb.

The Feast of Pentecost was an annual offering of gratitude to Jehovah for
having blessed the land with increase. It took place fifty days after the
passover, and hence the origin of its name in the Greek version of our
Scriptures. Another appellation was applied to it--the Feast of Weeks--for
the reason assigned by the inspired lawgiver. "Seven weeks shall thou
number unto thee; beginning to number the seven weeks from such time as
thou puttest the sickle to the corn. And thou shalt keep the feast of
weeks unto the Lord thy God with a tribute of a free-will offering of
thine hand, in the place which Jehovah shall choose to place his name
there: And thou shall remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt."[62]

This was a very suitable celebration in an agricultural society, where joy
is always experienced upon the gathering in of the fruits of the earth.
The Hebrews were especially desired on that happy occasion to contrast
their improved condition, as freemen reaping their own lands, with the
miserable state from which they had been rescued by the good providence of
Jehovah. The month of May witnessed the harvest-home of all Palestine in
the days of Moses, as well as in the present times; and no sooner was the
pleasant toil of filling their barns completed, than all the males
repaired to the holy city with the appointed tribute is their hands, and
the song of praise in their mouths. Jewish antiquaries inform us, that
there was combined with this eucharistical service a commemoration of the
wonders which took place at Mount Sinai, when the Lord condescended to
pronounce his law in the ears of his people. The history of our own
religion has supplied a greater event, which at once supersedes the pious
recollections of the Hebrew, and touches the heart of the Christian
worshipper with the feeling of a more enlightened gratitude.

The termination of the vintage was marked with a similar expression of
thanksgiving, uttered by the assembled tribes in the place which had
received the "Name of Jehovah;" the visible manifestation of his presence
and power. The precept for this observance is given in the following
terms:--"On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered
in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the Lord seven days.
And ye shall take unto you, on the first day, the boughs of goodly trees,
branches of palm-trees, and the boughs of thick trees and willows of the
brook; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. Ye shall
dwell in booths seven days, that your generations may know that I made the
children of Israel to dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land
of Egypt."

This festival was of the most lively and animated description, celebrated
with a joyous heart, and under the canopy of heaven, in a most delightful
season of the year. If more exquisite music and more graceful dances
accompanied the gathering in of the grapes on the banks of the Cephisus,
the tabret and the viol and the harp, which sounded around the walls of
the sacred metropolis, were not wanting in sweetness and gayety; and,
instead of the frantic riot of satyrs and bacchanals, the rejoicing was
chastened by the solemn religious recollections with which it was
associated, in a manner, remarkably pleasing and picturesque.[63]

The feast of Trumpets had a reference to the mode practised by many of the
ancients for announcing the commencements of seasons and epochs. The
beginning of every month was made known to the inhabitants of Jerusalem by
the sound of musical instruments. "Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in
the time appointed, on our solemn feast-day: for this was a statute for
Israel, a law of the God of Jacob." As the first day of the moon in
September was the beginning of the civil year, the festivity was greater
and more solemn than on other occasions. The voice of the trumpets waxed
louder than usual, and the public mind was instructed by a grave assurance
from the mouth of the proper officer, that another year was added to the
age of the world. "In the seventh month, in the first day of the month,
shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy
convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein; but ye shall offer an
offering made by fire unto the Lord."[64]

We have already alluded to the jubilee which occurred periodically after
the lapse of forty-nine years, or, as the Jews were wont to express it,
after a week of Sabbaths. The benevolent uses of this most generous
institution are known to every reader, more especially as they respected
personal freedom and the restoration of lands and houses. Great care was
taken by the Jewish legislator to prevent an accumulation of property in
one individual, or even in one tribe. Nor was his anxiety less to prevent
the alienation of land, either by sale, mortgage, or marriage. With this
view we find him enacting a rule, suggested by the case of the daughters
of Zelophedad, who had been allowed to become heirs to their father, of
which the object was to perpetuate the possession of landed estates within
the limits of each particular tribe. The heads of the chief families of
Manasseh, to which community the young women belonged, came before Moses
and the Princes of Israel, when, after reminding these dignitaries of the
fact just mentioned, they said, "If they be married to any of the sons
of the other tribes, then shall their inheritance be taken from the
inheritance of our fathers, and shall be put to the inheritance of the
tribe whereunto they are received; so shall it be taken from the lot of
our inheritance. And when the jubilee of the children of Israel shall be,
then shall their inheritance be put unto the inheritance of the tribe
whereunto they are received: so shall their inheritance be taken away from
the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers."

To this judicious remonstrance Moses gave the following answer:--"This
is the thing which the Lord doth command concerning the daughters of
Zelophedad; let them marry to whom they think best; only to the family
of the tribe of heir father shall they marry. And every daughter that
possesseth an inheritance shall be wife unto one of the family, of the
tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the
inheritance of his fathers. Neither shall the inheritance remove from one
tribe to another tribe; but every one of the tribes of the children of
Israel shall keep himself to his own inheritance."[65]

Besides the anniversaries enjoined by Divine authority, the Hebrews
observed several which were meant to keep alive the remembrance of certain
great events recorded in their history. Of these was the Feast of
Dedication mentioned by St. John, referring, it has been thought, to the
purification of the altar by Judas Maccabaeus, after it had been profaned
by Antiochus, the king of Syria. When the ceremony was performed, "Judas
and his brethren, with the whole congregation of Israel, ordained that the
days of the dedication of the altar should be kept in their season, from
year to year, by the space of eight days, from the five-and-twentieth day
of the ninth month (November), with mirth and gladness."[66]

The restoration of the heavenly fire in the temple, after the return from
Babylon, was likewise commemorated every year. This sacred flame, which
had been long extinct, was revived on the altar the day that Nehemiah
performed sacrifice in the new building. For this reason the Jews of
Palestine wrote to those in Egypt, recommending an annual festival in
remembrance of an event so important to their national worship. They
thought it necessary to certify them of the fact, that their brethren also
might celebrate the "feast of the fire which was given us when Neemias
offered sacrifice after that he had builded the Temple and the altar."[67]

It was likewise a custom among this singular people, that the young women
"went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah, the Gileadite, four days
in a year." A more joyous ceremony, on the fourteenth and fifteenth days
of the month Adar, reminded the faithful Hebrew of the triumph gained by
his kindred over the cruel and perfidious Haman, who had intended to
extirpate their whole race. Besides these, we find in the book of
Zecharias the prophet an allusion to the "fast of the fourth month, and
the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the
tenth;" days of humiliation which probably recalled certain national
calamities, such as the destruction of their city and Temple, and the era
of their long captivity.

In concluding this chapter on the literature and religion of the ancient
Hebrews, we may remark, in regard to the system bequeathed to them by
Moses, that it contains the only complete body of law which was ever given
to a people at one time,--that it is the only entire body of law which has
come down to our days,--that it is the only body of ancient law which
still governs an existing people,--that, the nation which it respects
being scattered over the face of the whole earth, it is the only body of
law that is equally observed in the four quarters of the globe,--and,
finally, that all the other codes of law of which history has preserved
any recollection, were given to communities who already had written
statutes, but who wished to change their form or modify their application;
whereas, in this case, we behold a new society under the hands of a
legislator who proceeds to lay its very foundations.[68]

It may be said of the Hebrews, that they had no profane literature, no
works devoted to mere amusement or relaxation. As they admitted no image
of any thing in heaven or in earth, they consequently rejected the use of
all those arts called imitative, and which supply so large a portion of
the more refined enjoyment characteristic of civilized nations. In like
manner, they seem to have viewed in the light of sacrilege every attempt
to bring down the sublime language in which they praised Jehovah and
recorded his mighty works, to the more common and less hallowed purposes
of fictitious narrative, or of amatory, dramatic, and lyrical composition.
The Jews have no epic poem to throw a lustre on the early annals of their
literature. Even the Song of Songs is allowed to have a spiritual import,
pointing to much higher themes than Solomon and his Egyptian bride. A
solemn gravity pervades all their writings, befitting a people who were
charged with the religious history of the world and with the oracles of
Divine truth. No smile appears to have ever brightened the countenance of
a Jewish author,--no trifling thought to have passed through his mind,--no
ludicrous association to have been formed in his fancy. In describing the
flood of Deucalion, the Roman poet laughs at the grotesque misery which he
himself exhibits, and purposely groups together objects with the intention
of exerting to his readers the feeling of ridicule. But in no instance can
we detect the faintest symptom of levity in the Hebrew penmen; their
style, like their subject, is uniformly exalted, chaste, and severe; they
wrote to men concerning the things of God, in a manner suitable to such a
momentous communication; and they never ceased to remember that, in all
their records, whether historical or prophetic, they were employed in
propagating those glad tidings by which all the families of the earth were
to be blessed.

There can be no stronger proof of the pure and sublime nature of Hebrew
poetry than is supplied by the remarkable fact, that it has been
introduced into the service of the Christian church, and found suitable
for expressing those lofty sentiments with which the gospel inspires the
heart of every true worshipper. No other nation of the ancient world has
produced a single poem which could be used by an enlightened people in
these days for the purposes of devotion.[69] Hesiod, although much
esteemed for the moral tone of his compositions, presents very few ideas
indeed capable of being accommodated to the theology of an improved age.
In perusing the works of the greatest writers of paganism, we are struck
with a monstrous incongruity in all their conceptions of the Supreme
Being. The majesty with which the Hebrews surrounded Jehovah is entirely
wanting; the attributes belonging to the great Sovereign of the universe
are not appreciated; the providence of the Divine mind, united with
benevolence, compassion, and mercy, is never found to enter into their
descriptions of the eternal First Cause; while their incessant deviations
into polytheism outrage our religious feelings, and carry us back to the
verb rudest periods of human history.

In these respects the literature of the Jews is far exalted above that of
every other nation of which history has preserved any traces. It must be
acknowledged, that we remain ignorant of the learning and theological
opinions cultivated among the Persians at the time when the Jews were
under their dominion, and cannot therefore determine the precise extent to
which the dogmas of the captive tribes were affected by their intercourse
with a race of men who certainly taught the doctrine of the Divine unity,
and abstained from idolatrous usages. But confining our judgment even to
the oldest compositions of the Hebrews, those, for example, which may be
traced to the days of Moses, of Samuel, and of David, we cannot hesitate
to pronounce that they are distinguished by a remarkable peculiarity,
indicating by the most unambiguous tokens, that, in all things pertaining
to religious belief, the descendants of Jacob were placed under a special
superintendence and direction.


_Description of Jerusalem_.

Pilgrimages to the Holy Land; Arculfus; Willibald; Bernard; Effect of
Crusades; William de Bouldessell; Bertrandon de la Broquiere; State of
Damascus; Breidenbach; Baumgarten; Bartholemeo Georgewitz; Aldersey;
Sandys; Doubdan; Cheron; Thevenot; Gonzales; Morison; Maundrell; Pococke;
Road from Jaffa to Jerusalem; Plain of Sharon; Rama or Ramla; Condition
of the Peasantry; Vale of Jeremiah; Jerusalem; Remark of Chateaubriand;
Impressions of different Travellers; Dr. Clarke; Tasso; Volney; Henniker;
Mosque of Omar described; Mysterious Stone; Church of Holy Sepulchre;
Ceremonies of Good Friday; Easter; The Sacred Fire; Grounds for Skepticism;
Folly of the Priests; Emotion upon entering the Holy Tomb; Description of
Chateaubriand; Holy Places in the City; On Mount Zion; Pool of Siloam;
Fountain of the Virgin; Valley of Jehoshaphat; Mount of Offence; The Tombs
of Zechariah, of Jehoshaphat, and of Absalom; Jewish Architecture; Dr.
Clarke's Opinion on the Topography of Ancient Jerusalem; Opposed by other
Writers; The Inexpediency of such Discussions.

Having described, as fully as the plan of our undertaking will admit, the
constitution, history, learning, and religion of the ancient Hebrews, we
now proceed to give an account of the present condition of the country
which they inhabited nearly 1500 years, interrupted only by short
intervals of captivity or oppression. The connexion which Christianity
acknowledges with the people and soil of Judea has, from the earliest
times, given a deep interest to travels in the Holy Land. The curiosity
natural to man in respect to things which have obtained celebrity, joined
to the conviction, hardly leas natural, that there is a certain merit in
enduring privation and fatigue for the sake of religion, has in every age
induced pilgrims to visit the scenes where our Divine Faith was originally
established, and to communicate to their contemporaries the result of
their investigations. It is to be regretted, indeed, that some of them
from ignorance, and others from a feeling of the weakest bigotry, have
omitted to notice those very objects which are esteemed the most
interesting to the general reader; thinking it their duty, as one of them
expresses it, to "quench all spirit of vain curiosity, lest they should
return without any benefit to their souls."

About the year 705, Jerusalem and its holy places were visited by
Arculfus, from whose report Adamnan composed a narrative, which was
received with considerable approbation. He describes the Temple on Mount
Calvary with some minuteness, mentioning its twelve pillars and eight
gates. But his attention was more particularly attracted by relics, those
objects which all Jerusalem flocked to handle and to kiss with the
greatest reverence. He saw the cup used at the last supper,--the sponge on
which the vinegar was poured,--the lance which pierced the side of our
Lord,--the cloth in which he was wrapped,--also another cloth woven by the
Virgin Mary, whereon were represented the figures of the Saviour and of
the Twelve Apostles.

Eighty years later, Willibald, a Saxon, undertook the same journey,
influenced by similar motives. From his infancy he had been distinguished
by a sage and pious disposition; and, on emerging from boyhood, he was
seized with an anxious desire to "try the unknown ways of
peregrination--to pass over the huge wastes of ocean to the ends of the
earth." To this erratic propensity he owed all the fame which a place in
the Romish calendar and the authorship of an indifferent book can confer.
In Jerusalem he saw all that Arculfus saw, and nothing more; but he had
previously visited the Tomb of the Seven Sleepers, and the cave in which
St. John wrote the Apocalypse.

Bernard proceeded to Palestine in the year 878. He travelled first in
Egypt, and from thence made his way across the Desert, the heat of which
called vividly to his imagination the sloping hills of Campania when
covered with snow. At Alexandria he was subjected to tribute by the
avaricious governor, who paid no regard to the written orders of the
sultan. The treatment which he received at Cairo was still more
distressing. He was thrown into prison, and in this extremity he asked
counsel of God; whereupon it was miraculously revealed to him, that
thirteen denari, such as he had presented to the other Mussulman, would
produce here an equally favourable result. The celestial origin of this
advice was proved by its complete success. The pilgrim was not only
liberated, but obtained letters from the propitiated ruler which saved him
from all farther exaction.

The Crusades threw open the holy places to the eyes of all Europe; and
accordingly, so long as a Christian king swayed the sceptre in the capital
of Judea, the merit of individual pilgrimage was greatly diminished. But
no sooner had the warlike Saracens recovered possession of Jerusalem than
the wonted difficulty and danger returned; and, as might be expected, the
interest attached to the sacred buildings, which the "infidel dogs" were
no longer worthy to behold, revived in greater vigour than formerly. In
1331, William de Bouldesell adventured on an expedition into Arabia and
Palestine, of which some account has been published. In the monastery of
St. Catharine, at the base of Mount Sinai, he was hospitably received by
the monks, who showed him the bones of their patron reposing in a tomb,
which, however, they appear not to have treated with much respect. By
means of hard beating, we are told, they brought out from these remains of
mortality a small portion of blood, which they presented to the pilgrim as
a gift of singular value. A circumstance which particularly astonished him
would probably have produced no surprise in a less believing mind; the
blood, it seems, "had not the appearance of real blood, but rather of some
thick oily substance;" nevertheless, the miracle was regarded by him as
one of the greatest that had ever been witnessed in this world.

A hundred years afterward Bertrandon de la Broquiere sailed from Venice to
Jaffa, where, according to the statistics of contrite pilgrims, the
"pardons of the Holy Land begin." At Jerusalem he found the Christians
reduced to a state of the most cruel thraldom. Such of them as engaged in
trade were locked up in their shops every night by the Saracens, who
opened the doors in the morning at such an hour as seemed to them most
proper or convenient. At Damascus they were treated with equal severity.
The first two persons whom he met in this city knocked him down,--an
injury which he dared not resent for fear of immediately losing his life.
About thirty years before the period of his visit, the destroying arms of
Timur had laid a large portion of the Syrian capital in ruins, though the
population had again increased to nearly one hundred thousand. During his
stay he witnessed the arrival of a caravan consisting of more than three
thousand camels. Its entry employed two days and two nights; the Koran
wrapped in silk being carried in front on the back of a camel richly
adorned with the same costly material. This part of the procession was
surrounded by a number of persons brandishing naked swords, and playing on
all sorts of musical instruments. The governor, with all the inhabitants,
went out to meet the holy cavalcade, and to do homage to the sacred
ensign, which at once proclaimed their faith, and announced the object of
the pious mission thus successfully concluded. Broquiere found the
greatest respect paid to every one who had performed the pilgrimage to
Mecca, and was gravely assured by an eminent Moulah, that no such person
could ever incur the hazard of everlasting damnation.

We merely mention the names of Breidenbach of Mentz, and of Martin
Baumgarten, who in the beginning of the sixteenth century achieved a
journey into the Holy Land. The latter of these, while passing through
Egypt, was most barbarously treated by the Saracen boys, who pelted him
with dirt, brickbats, stones, and rotten fruit. At Hebron he was shown the
field "were it is said, or at least guessed, that Adam was made;" but the
reddish earth of which it is composed is now used in the manufacture of

The work of Bartholemeo Georgewitz, who travelled in the same century,
gives a melancholy account of the miseries endured by such Christians as
were carried into slavery by the Turks in those evil days. The armies of
that nation were followed by slave-dealers supplied with chains, by means
of which fifty or sixty were bound in a row together, leaving only two
feet between to enable them to walk. The hands were manacled during the
day, and at night the feet also. The sufferings inflicted upon men of
rank, and those belonging to the learned professions, were almost beyond
description; extending not only to the lowest labours of the field, but
even to the work of oxen, being sometimes yoked like these animals in the
plough. Owing to the great rivers and arms of the sea, it was extremely
difficult for those who were sent into Asia to effect their escape;
whence, in many cases, the horrors of captivity had no other limits than
those of the natural life. No wonder that Bartholemeo recommends to every
one visiting those parts to make his will, "like one going not to the
earthly, but to the heavenly Jerusalem."

Laurence Aldersey, who set out from London in 1581, was the first
Protestant who encountered the perils of a voyage to Syria. In the Levant
a Turkish galley hove in sight, and caused great alarm. The master, "being
a wise fellow, began to devise how to escape the danger; but, while both
he and all of us were in our dumps, God sent us a merrie gale of wind." As
they approached Candia a violent storm came on, and the mariners began to
reproach the Englishman as the cause, "and saide I was no good Christian,
and wished I were in the middest of the sea, saying that they and the
shippe were the worse for me." He replied, "I think myself the worst
creature in the worlde, and do you consider yourselves also." These
remonstrances were followed by a long sermon, the tenor of which was,
"that they were not all good Christians, else it were not possible for
them to have such weather." A gentleman on board informed Aldersey, that
the suspicions respecting him originated in his refusal to join in the
prayers to the Virgin Mary,--a charge which he parried by remarking that
"they who praied to so many goe a wrong way to worke." The friars,
resolving to bring the matter to an issue, sent round the image of Our
Lady to kiss. On its approach the good Protestant endeavoured to avoid it
by going another way; but the bearer "fetched his course about," and
presented it. The proffered salutation being then positively rejected, the
affair might have become serious, had not two of the more respectable
monks interceded in his behalf, and enforced a more charitable procedure.

Of the people of Cyprus he remarks, that they "be very rude, and like
beasts, and no better: they eat their meat sitting upon the ground, with
their legs acrosse like tailors." On the 8th of August they arrived at
Joppa, but did not till the next day receive permission to land from the
great pasha, "who sate upon a hill to see us sent away." Aldersey had
mounted before the rest, which greatly displeased his highness, who sent a
servant to pull him from the saddle and beat him; "whereupon I made a long
legge, saying, Grand mercye, seignor." This timely submission seems to
have secured forgiveness; and accordingly, "being horsed upon little
asses," they commenced their journey towards Jerusalem. Rama he describes
as so "ruinated, that he took it to be rather a heape of stones than a
towne;" finding no house to receive them but such a one as they were
compelled to enter by creeping on their knees. The party were exposed to
the usual violence and extortion of the Arabs; "they that should have
rescued us stood still, and durst doe nothing, which was to our cost." On
reaching the holy city they knelt down and gave thanks; after which they
were obliged to enter the gate on foot, no Christian at that period being
allowed to appear within the walls mounted. The superior of the convent
received the pilgrims courteously into his humble establishment, where
Aldersey tells us, "they were dieted of free cost, and fared reasonable

The beginning of the seventeenth century witnessed a higher order of
travellers, who, from such a mixture of motives as might actuate either a
pilgrim or an antiquary, undertook the perilous tour of the Holy Land.
Among these, one of the most distinguished was George Sandys, who
commenced his peregrinations in the year 1610. He was succeeded by
Doubdan, Cheron, Thevenot, Gonzales, Morison, Maundrell, and Pococke, all
of whom have contributed many valuable materials towards a complete
knowledge of the localities, government, and actual condition of modern
Palestine. In our own days the number of works on these important subjects
has increased greatly, presenting to the historian of the Turkish
provinces in Asia a nearer and more minute view of society than could be
obtained by the earlier travellers, who, instead of yielding to the
characteristic bigotry of Moslem, usually opposed to it a prejudice not
less determined and uncharitable. We must not hazard a catalogue of the
enterprising authors to whom the European public are indebted for the
information: now enjoyed by every class of readers, in regard to the most
interesting of all ancient kingdoms,--the country inhabited by Israel and
Judah. In the description which we are about to give of the principal
towns, the buildings, the antiquities, the manners, the opinions, and the
religious forms which meet the observation of the intelligent tourist in
the Land of Canaan, we shall select the most striking facts from writers
of all nations and sects, making no distinction but such as shall be
dictated by a respect for the learning, the candour, and the opportunities
which are recorded in their several volumes.

Palestine is usually approached, either from the sea at the port of Jaffa
(the ancient Joppa), or from Egypt, by way of the intervening desert. In
both cases, the principal object is to obtain a safe and easy route to the
capital, which, even at the present hour, cannot be reached without much
danger, unless under the special protection of the native authorities. The
power of Mohammed Ali, it is true, extends almost to the very walls of
Gaza; and wherever his government is acknowledged no violence can be
committed with impunity on European travellers. But the Syrian pashas,
equally deficient in inclination and vigour, still permit the grossest
extortion, and sometimes connive at the most savage atrocities. Besides,
there is a class of lawless Arabs who scour the borders of the wilderness,
holding at defiance all the restrictions which a civilized people impose
or respect. Sir Frederick Henniker, who followed the unwonted track which
leads from Mount Sinai to the southern shore of the Dead Sea, narrowly
escaped with his life, after having been severely wounded and repeatedly
robbed by one of the most savage hordes of Bedouins.

The history of the crusades will draw our attention to Jaffa more minutely
than would be suitable at the present stage of our narrative; we shall
therefore proceed on the usual route to Jerusalem, collecting as we go
along such notices as may prove interesting to the reader. At a short
distance from this celebrated port the pilgrim enters the plain of Sharon,
celebrated in Scripture for its beautiful roses. The monk Neret informs
us, that in his time it was covered with tulips, the variety of whose
colours formed a lovely parterre. At present, the eye of the traveller is
delighted with a profusion of roses white and red, the narcissus, the
white and orange lily, the carnation, and a highly-fragrant species of
everlasting-flower. This plain stretches along the coast from Gaza in the
south to Mount Carmel on the north, being bounded towards the east by the
hills of Judea and Samaria. The whole of it is not upon the same level; it
consists of four platforms separated from each other by a wall of naked
stones. The soil is composed of a very fine sand, which, though mixed with
ravel, appears extremely fertile; but owing to the desolating spirit of
Mohammedan despotism, nothing is seen in some of the richest fields except
thistles and withered grass. Here and there, indeed, are scanty
plantations of cotton, with a few patches of doura, barley, and wheat. The
villages, which are commonly surrounded with olive-trees and sycamores,
are for the most part in ruins; exhibiting a melancholy proof that under a
bad government even the bounty of Heaven ceases to be a blessing.

The path by which the billy barrier is penetrated is difficult, and in
some places dangerous. But before you reach it, turning towards the east,
you perceive Rama, or Ramla, the ancient Arimathea, distinguished by its
charming situation, and well known as the residence of a Christian
community. The convent, it is true, had been plundered five years before
it was visited by Chateaubriand; and it was not without the most urgent
solicitation that the friars were permitted to repair their building, as
if it were a maxim among the Turks, who by their domination continue to
afflict and disgrace the finest parts of Palestine, that the progress of
ruin and decay should never be arrested. Volney tells us, that when he was
at Ramla a commander resided there in a serai, the walls and floors of
which were on the point of tumbling down. He asked one of the inferior
officers why his master did not at least pay some attention to his own
apartment. The reply was, "If another shall obtain his place next year,
who will repay the expense?"

In those days the aga maintained about one hundred horsemen and as many
African soldiers, who were lodged in an old Christian church, the nave of
which was converted into a stable, as also in an ancient khan, which was
disputed with them by the scorpions. The adjacent country is planted with
lofty olives, the greatest part of which are as large as the walnut-trees
of France, though they are daily perishing through age and the ravages of
contending factions. When a peasant is disposed to take revenge on his
enemy, he goes by night and outs his trees close to the ground, when the
wound, which he carefully covers from the sight, drains off the sap like
an issue. Amid these plantations are seen at every step dry wells,
cisterns fallen in, and immense vaulted reservoirs, which prove that in
ancient times this town must have been upwards of four miles in
circumference. At present it does not contain more than a hundred
miserable families. The houses are only so many huts, sometimes detached,
and sometimes ranged in the form of cells round a court, enclosed by a mud
wall. In winter, the inhabitants and their cattle may be said to live
together; the part of the building allotted to themselves being raised
only two feet above that in which they lodge their beasts. The peasants
are by this means kept warm without burning wood,--a species of economy
indispensable in a country absolutely destitute of fuel. As to the fire
necessary for culinary purposes, they make it, as was the practice in the
days of Ezekiel the prophet, of dung kneaded into cakes, which they dry in
the sun, exposing them to its rays on the walls of their huts. In summer,
their lodging is more airy; but all their furniture consists of a single
mat and a pitcher for carrying water. The immediate neighborhood of the
village is sown at the proper season with grain and watermelons; all the
rest is a desert, and abandoned to the Bedouin Arabs, who feed their
flocks on it. There are frequent remains of towers, dungeons, and even of
castles with ramparts and ditches, in some of which are a few Barbary
soldiers with nothing but a shirt and a musket. These ruins, however, are
more commonly inhabited by owls, jackals, and scorpions.[71]

The only remarkable antiquity at Ramla is the minaret of a decayed mosque,
which, by an Arabic inscription, appears to have been built by the Sultan
of Egypt. From the summit, which is very lofty, the eye follows the whole
chain of mountains, beginning at Nablous, and skirting the extremity of
the plain till it loses itself in the south.

A ride of two hours brings the traveller to the verge of the mountains,
where the road opens through a rugged ravine, and is formed in the dry
channel of a torrent. A scene of marked solitude and desolation surrounds
his steps as he pursues his journey in what is so simply described in the
gospel as the "hill country of Judea." He finds himself amid a labyrinth
of mountains, of a conical figure, all nearly alike, and connected with
each other at their base. A naked rock presents strata or beds resembling
the seats of a Roman amphitheatre, or the walls which support the
vineyards in the valleys of Savoy. Every recess is filled with dwarf oaks,
box, and rose-laurels. From the bottom of the ravines olive-trees rear
their heads, sometimes forming continuous woods on the sides of the hills.
On reaching the most elevated summit of this chain, he looks down towards
the south-west on the beautiful valley of Sharon, bounded by the Great
Sea; before him opens the Vale of St. Jeremiah; and in the same direction,

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