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Palestine or the Holy Land by Michael Russell

Part 4 out of 6

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powder, leaving the rind wholly entire, and in possession of its beautiful

M. Seetzen, again, holds the novel opinion, that this mysterious apple
contains a sort of cotton resembling silk; and, having no pulp or flesh in
the inside, might naturally enough, when sought for as food, be denounced
by the hungry Bedouin as pleasing to the eye and deceitful to the palate.
Chateaubriand has fixed on a shrub different from any of the others. It
grows two or three leagues from the mouth of the Jordan, and is of a
thorny appearance, with small tapering leaves. Its fruit is exactly like
that of the Egyptian lemon, both in size and colour. Before it is ripe it
is filled with a corrosive and saline juice; when dried, it yields a
blackish seed that may be compared to ashes, and which in taste resembles
bitter pepper. There can be little doubt that this is the true apple of
Sodom, which flatters the sight while it mocks the appetite.[116]

In ascending the western shore, the traveller at length reaches the point
where the Jordan mixes its muddy waters with those of the lake.
Hasselquist, the only modern author who describes the mouth of that
celebrated river, tells us that the plain which extends from thence to
Jericho, a distance of more than three leagues, is, generally speaking,
level, but uncultivated and barren. The soil is a grayish sandy clay, so
loose that the horses often sank up to the knees in it. The whole surface
of the earth is covered with salt in the same manner as on the banks of
the Nile, and would, it is probable, prove no less fruitful were it
irrigated with equal care. The stones on the beach, it is added, were all
quartz, but of various colours; some specimens of which, having a slaty
structure, emitted, when exposed to fire, a strong smell of bitumen,
thereby denoting, perhaps, its volcanic origin.

There is a great want of unanimity among authors in respect to the width
of the Jordan. The Swede whom we have just quoted relates, that opposite
to Jericho it was eight paces over, the banks perpendicular, six feet in
height, the water deep, muddy, warm rather than cold, and much inferior in
quality to that of the Nile. Chateaubriand, again, who measured it in
several places, reports that it was about fifty feet in breadth, and six
feet deep close to the shore,--a discrepancy which must arise from the
period of the year when it was seen by these distinguished writers.[117]

The Old Testament abounds with allusions to the swellings of Jordan; but
at present, whether the current has deepened its channel, or whether the
climate is less moist than in former days, this occurrence is seldom
witnessed,--the river has forgotten its ancient greatness. Maundrell could
discern no sign or probability of such overflowings; for although he was
there on the 30th of March,--the proper season of the inundation,--the
river was running two yards at least under the level of its banks. The
margin of the stream, however, continues as of old to be closely covered
with a natural forest of tamarisk, willows, oleanders, and similar trees,
and to afford a retreat to several species of wild beasts. Hence the fine
metaphor of the prophet Jeremiah, who assimilates an enraged enemy to a
lion coming up "from the swellings of Jordan," driven from his lair by the
annual flood, and compelled to seek shelter in the surrounding desert.

Jericho, which is at present a miserable village inhabited by half-naked
Arabs, derives all its importance from history. It was the first city
which the Israelites reduced upon entering the Holy Land. Five hundred and
thirty years afterward it was rebuilt by Heliel of Bethel, who succeeded
in restoring its population, its splendour, and its commerce; in which
flourishing condition it appears to have continued during several
centuries. Mark Antony, in the pride of power, presented to Cleopatra the
whole territory of Jericho. Vespasian, in the course of the sanguinary war
which he prosecuted in Judea, sacked its walls, and put its inhabitants to
the sword. Re-established by Adrian in the 138th year of our faith, it was
doomed at no distant era to experience new disasters. It was again
repaired by the Christians, who made it the seat of a bishop; but in the
twelfth century it was overthrown by the infidels, and has not since
emerged from its ruins. Of all its magnificent buildings there remain only
the part of one tower, supposed to be the dwelling of Zaccheus the
publican, and a quantity of rubbish, which is understood to mark the line
of its ancient walls.

Mr. Buckingham saw reason to believe that the true site of Jericho, as
described by Josephus, was at a greater distance from the river than the
village of Rahhah, commonly supposed to represent the City of Palms.
Descending from the mountains which bound the valley on the western side,
he observed the ruins of a large settlement, covering at least a square
mile, whence, as well as from the remains of aqueducts and fountains, he
was led to conclude that it must have been a place of considerable
consequence. Some of the more striking objects among the wrecks of this
ancient city were large tumuli, evidently the work of art, and resembling
those of the Greek and Trojan heroes on the plains of Ilium. There were,
besides, portions of ruined buildings, shafts of columns, and a capital of
the Corinthian order; tokens not at all ambiguous of former grandeur and
of civilized life.

Josephus fixes the position of Jericho at the distance of one hundred and
fifty furlongs from Jerusalem, and sixty from the river Jordan; stating
that the country, as far as the capital, is desert and hilly, while to the
shores of the Lake Asphaltites it is low, though equally waste and
unfruitful. Nothing can apply more accurately, in all its particulars,
than this description does to the ruins just mentioned. The spot lies at
the very foot of the sterile mountains of Judea, which may be said
literally to overhang it on the west; and these ridges are still as
barren, as rugged, and as destitute of inhabitants as formerly, throughout
their whole extent, from the Lake of Tiberias to the Dead Sea. The
distance, by the computation in time, amounted to six hours, or nearly
twenty miles, from Jerusalem; the space between the supposed city and the
river being little more than one-third of that amount, the precise
proportion indicated by the Jewish historian.

The soil round Jericho was long celebrated for a precious balsam, which
used to be sold for double its weight of silver. The historian Justin
relates, that the trees from which it exudes bear a resemblance to firs,
though they are lower, and are cultivated after the manner of vines. He
adds, that the wealth of the Jewish nation arises from their produce, as
they grow in no other part of Syria. At present, however, there is not a
tree of any description, either palm or balsam, to be seen near the site
of this deserted town; but it is admitted, that the complete desolation
with which its ruins are invested ought to be attributed to the cessation
of industry rather than to any perceptible change either in the climate or
the soil.

Rahhah stands about four miles nearer the river, or about half-way between
the assumed position of Jericho and the bank of the current. It consists
of about fifty dwellings, all very mean in their appearance, and every one
fenced in front with thorny bushes; one of the most effectual defences
that could be raised against the incursions of the Bedouins, whose horses
will not approach these formidable thickets. The inhabitants, without
exception, are professed believers in the creed of Islamism. Their habits
are those of shepherds rather than of cultivators of the soil; this last
duty, indeed, when performed at all, being done chiefly by the women and
children, as the men roam the plain on horseback, and derive the principal
means of subsistence from robbery and plunder. They are governed by a
sheik, whose influence among them is more like the authority of a father
over his children than that of a magistrate; and who is, moreover, checked
in the exercise of his power, by the knowledge that he would instantly be
deprived of life and station were he to exceed the bounds which, in all
rude countries, are opposed even to the caprices of despotism. It is
remarkable that the name of this village corresponds to Rahab, the name of
the hostess who received into her house the Hebrew spies, and signifies
odour or perfume; the slight change on the form of the Arabic term
implying no difference in the import of the root whence they are both
originally derived.

The mountains on the eastern side of the Jordan are more lofty than those
which skirt the Vale of Jericho, being not less than 2000 feet in height.
From the summit of a towering peak, which the traveller still delights to
recognise, Moses was permitted to behold the promised inheritance,
stretching towards the west, the south, and the north,--"All the land of
Gilead unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh,
and all the land of Judah unto the utmost sea, and the south, and the
plain of the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm-trees, unto Zoar. And the
Lord said unto him, this is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto
Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused
thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So
Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there, in the land of Moab, according
to the word of the Lord. And he buried him in a valley in the land of
Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto
this day."[118]

The road from Jericho to Jerusalem presents some historical reminiscences
of the most interesting nature. When entering the mountains which protect
the western side of the plain, the attention of the traveller is invited
to the Fountain of Elisha, the waters of which were sweetened by the power
of the prophet. The men of Jericho represented to him that though the
situation of the town was pleasant, "the water was naught, and the ground
barren. And he said, bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein: and they
brought it to him. And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and
cast the salt in there, and said, thus with the Lord, I have healed these
waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land. So
the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha
which he spake."[119]

Its waters are at present received in a basin about nine or ten paces
long, and five or six broad; and from thence, issuing out in good plenty,
divide themselves into several small streams, dispersing their refreshment
to all the land as far as Jericho, and rendering it exceedingly fruitful.
Advancing into the savage country through which the usual road to the
capital is formed, the tourist soon finds himself at the foot of the
mountain called Quarantina, from being the supposed scene of the
temptation and fast of forty days endured by our Saviour, who,

--"looking round on every aide, beheld
A pathless desert dusk with horrid shades:
The way he came not having marked, return
Was difficult, by human steps untrod;
And he still on was led, but with such thoughts
Accompanied of things past and to come
Lodg'd in his breast, as well might recommend
Such solitude before choicest society."[120]

The neighbourhood of this lofty eminence is, according to Mr. Maundrell,
a dry, miserable, barren place, consisting of high rocky mountains, so
torn and disordered, "as if the earth had here suffered some great
convulsion, in which its very bowels had been turned outward." In a deep
valley are seen the ruins of small cells and cottages, thought to be the
remains of those sequestered habitations to which hermits were wont to
retire for the uses of penance and mortification; and it is remarked
that, in the whole earth, a more comfortless and desert place could not
have been selected for so pious a purpose. From these hills of desolation,
however, there is obtained a magnificent prospect of the Plain of Jericho,
the Dead Sea, and of the distant summits of Arabia; for which reason the
highest of the group has been assigned by tradition as the very spot
whence all the kingdoms of the world were seen in a moment of time. It
is, as St. Matthew styles it, an exceeding high mountain, and in its
ascent not only difficult but dangerous. It has a small chapel at the
top, and another about half-way down, founded upon a projecting part of
the rock. Near the latter are observed several caves and holes, excavated
by the solitaries, who thought it the most suitable place for undergoing
the austerities of Lent,--a practice which has not even at the present
day fallen altogether into disuse. Hasselquist describes the path as
"dangerous beyond imagination. I went as far up on this terrible mountain
of Temptation as prudence would admit, but ventured not to go to the top;
whither I sent my servant to bring what natural curiosities he could
find, while I gathered what plants and insects I could find below."[121]

Mariti, whose religious zeal was fanned into a temporary flame, ascended
the formidable steep as far as the grottoes, which he delineates with much
minuteness. He pronounces the chapel inaccessible from the side on which
he stood, and is very doubtful whether it could now be approached on any
quarter, the ancient road being so much neglected. But it should seem that
most travellers are smitten with the feeling which seized the breast of
Maundrell, although they all have not the candour to acknowledge it.
Alluding to the Arabs, who demanded a sum of money for liberty to ascend,
he says, "we departed without further trouble, not a little glad to have
so good an excuse for not climbing so dangerous a precipice."[122]

The imagination of Milton has thrown a captivating splendour around this
scene, which, at the same time, he appears to have transferred to the
mountain-range beyond the Jordan in the country of the Moabites.

"Thus wore out night; and now the herald lark
Left his ground-nest, high towering to descry
The morn's approach, and greet her with his song,
As lightly from his grassy couch up rose
Our Saviour, and found all was but a dream;
Fasting he went to sleep, and fasting waked.
Up to a hill anon his steps he reared,
From whose high top to ken the prospect round,
If cottage were in view, sheepcote, or herd;
But cottage, herd, or sheepcote, none he saw;
Only in a bottom saw a pleasant grove,
With chant of tuneful birds resounding loud;
Thither he bent his way; determined there
To rest at noon, and entered soon the shade
High roofed, and walks beneath, and alleys brown,
That opened in the midst a woody scene."[123]

Leaving the Quarantina with its dreary scenes and solemn recollections,
the pilgrim returning from the Jordan finds himself off a beaten path
which, since the days of Moses, it is probable has connected the rocks of
Salem with the banks of the sacred river. Chateaubriand informs us that it
is broad, and in some parts paved; having undergone, as he conjectures,
several improvements while the country was in possession of the Romans. On
the top of a mountain there is the appearance of a castle, which, we may
conclude, was meant to protect and command the road; and at a little
distance, in the bottom of a deep gloomy valley is the Place of Blood,
called in the Hebrew tongue Abdomim, where once stood a small town
belonging to the tribe of Judah, and where the good Samaritan is imagined
to have succoured the wounded traveller who had fallen into the hands of
thieves. That sombre dell is still entitled to its horrible distinction;
it is still the place of blood, of robbery, and of murder; the most
dangerous pass for him who undertakes to go down from Jerusalem to

As a proof of this, we may shortly mention an assault which was made upon
Sir F. Henniker, who a few years ago resolved to accomplish that perilous
journey. "The route is over hills, rocky, barren, and uninteresting. We
arrived at a fountain, and here my two attendants paused to refresh
themselves; the day was so hot that I was anxious to finish the journey
and hasten forwards. A ruined building, situated on the summit of a hill,
was now within sight, and I urged my horse towards it; the janizary
galloped by me, and making signs for me not to precede him, he himself
rode into and round the building, and then motioned me to advance. We next
came to a hill, through the very apex of which has been cut a passage, the
rocks overhanging it on either side. I was in the act of passing through
this ditch when a bullet whizzed by close to my head. I saw no one, and
had scarcely time to think when another was fired, some short distance in
advance. I could yet see no one, the janizary was beneath the brow of the
hill in his descent. I looked back, but my servant was not yet within
sight. I looked up, and within a few inches of my head were three muskets,
and three men taking aim at me. Escape or resistance was alike impossible.
I got off my horse. Eight men jumped down from the rocks and commenced a
scramble for me.--As he (the janizary) passed, I caught at a rope hanging
from his saddle; I had hoped to leap upon his horse, but found myself
unable; my feet were dreadfully lacerated by the honeycombed rocks; nature
would support me no longer; I fell, but still clung to the rope; in this
manner I was drawn some few yards, till, bleeding from my ankle to my
shoulder, I resigned myself to my fate. As soon as I stood up one of my
pursuers took aim at me; but the other, casually advancing between us,
prevented his firing. He then ran up, and with his sword aimed such a blow
as would not have required a second: his companion prevented its full
effect, so that it merely cut my ear in halves, and laid open one aide of
my face: they then stripped me naked."[124]

It is impossible not to suspect that the depraved government at Jerusalem
connives at such instances of violence in order to give some value to the
protection which they sell at a very dear rate to Christian travellers.
The administration of Mohammed Ali would be a blessing to Palestine,
inasmuch as it would soon render the intercourse between the capital and
the Dead Sea as safe as that between Alexandria and Grand Cairo.

Refreshing himself at the fountain where our Lord and his apostles,
according to a venerable tradition, were wont to rest on their journey to
the holy city, the tourist sets his heart on revisiting the sacred remains
of that decayed metropolis. When at the summit of the Mount of Olives, he
is again struck with the mixture of magnificence and ruin which marks the
queen of nations in her widowed estate. Owing to the clear atmosphere and
the absence of smoke, the view is so distinct that one might count the
separate houses. The streets are tolerably regular, straight, and well
paved; but they are narrow and dull, and almost all on a declivity. The
fronts of the houses, which are generally two or three stories high, are
quite plain, simply constructed of stone, without the least ornament; so
that in walking past them a stranger might fancy himself in the galleries
of a vast prison. The windows are very few and extremely small; and, by a
singular whim, the doors are so low that it is commonly requisite to bend
the body nearly double in order to enter them. Some families have gardens
of moderate dimensions; but, upon the whole, the ground within the walls
is fully occupied with buildings, if we except the vast enclosures in
which are placed the mosques and churches.

There is not observed at Jerusalem any square, properly so called; the
shops and markets are universally opened in the public streets. Provisions
are said to be abundant and cheap, including excellent meat, vegetables,
and fruit. Water is supplied by the atmosphere; and preserved in capacious
cisterns; nor is it necessary, except when a long drought has exhausted
the usual stock, that the inhabitants should have recourse to the spring
near the brook Kedron. Rice is much used for food; but as the country is
quite unsuited to the production of that aquatic grain, it is imported
from Egypt in return for oil, the staple of Palestine.

There is a great diversity of costume, everybody adopting that which he
likes best, whether Arab, Syrian, or Turk; but the lower order of people
generally wear a shirt fastened round the waist with a girdle, after the
example of their neighbours in the desert. Ali Bey remarks, that he saw
very few handsome females in the metropolis; on the contrary, they had in
general that bilious appearance so common in the East,--a pale citron
colour, or a dead yellow, like paper or plaster, and, wearing a white
fillet round the circumference of their faces, they have not unfrequently
the appearance of walking corpses. The children, however, are much
healthier and prettier than those of Arabia and Egypt.

The Christians and Jews wear, as a mark of distinction, a blue turban. The
villagers and shepherds use white ones, or striped like those of the
Moslem. The Christian women appear in public with their faces uncovered,
as they do in Europe.

The arts are cultivated to a certain extent, but the sciences have
entirely disappeared. There existed formerly large schools belonging to
the harem; but there are hardly any traces of them left, if their place be
not supplied by a few small seminaries where children of every form of
worship learn to read and write the code of their respective religion. The
grossest ignorance prevails even among persons of high rank, who, on the
first interview, appear to have received a liberal education.[125]

The Arabic language is generally spoken at Jerusalem, though the Turkish
is much used among the better class. The inhabitants are composed of
people of different nations and different religions, who inwardly despise
one another on account of their varying opinions; but as the Christians
are very numerous, there reigns among the whole no small degree of
complaisance, as well as an unrestrained intercourse in matters of
business, amusement, and even of religion.[126]

It is well remarked by Chateaubriand, who had travelled among the native
tribes of North America as extensively as among the Arabs of the Syrian
wilderness, that amid the rudeness of the latter you still perceive a
certain degree of delicacy in their manners; you see that they are natives
of that East which is the cradle of all the arts, all the sciences, all
the religions. Buried at the extremity of the West, the Canadian inhabits
valleys shaded by eternal forests and watered by immense rivers; the Arab,
cast, as it were, upon the high road of the world between Africa and Asia,
roves in the brilliant regions of Aurora over a soil without trees and
without water.

The Jews--the children of the kingdom--have been cast out, and many have
come from the east and the west to occupy their place in the desolate land
promised to their fathers. They usually take up their abode in the narrow
space between the Temple and the foot of Mount Zion, defended from the
tyranny of their Turkish masters by their indigence and misery. Here they
appear covered with rags, and sitting in the dust, with their eyes fixed
on the ruins of their ancient sanctuary. It has been observed that those
descendants of Abraham who come from foreign countries to fix their
residence at Jerusalem live but a short time; while such as are natives of
Palestine are so wretchedly poor as to be obliged to send every year to
raise contributions among their brethren of Egypt and Barbary.[127]

The picture given by Dr. Richardson is much more flattering. He assures
his readers that many of the Jews are rich and in comfortable
circumstances; but that they are careful to conceal their wealth, and even
their comfort, from the jealous eye of their rulers, lest, by awakening
their cupidity, some plot of robbery or murder should be devised. The
whole population has been estimated by different travellers as amounting
to from fifteen to thirty thousand, consisting of Mohammedans, Jews, and
the various sects of Christians.


_Description of the Country Northward of Jerusalem_.

Grotto of Jeremiah; Sepulchres of the Kings; Singular Doors; Village of
Leban; Jacob's Well; Valley of Shechem; Nablous; Samaritans; Sebaste;
Jennin; Gilead; Geraza, or Djerash; Description of Ruins; Gergasha of the
Hebrews; Rich Scenery of Gilead; River Jabbok; Souf; Ruins of Gamala;
Magnificent Theatre; Gadara; Capernaum, or Talhewm; Sea of Galilee;
Bethsaida and Chorazin; Tarrachea; Sumuk; Tiberias; Description of modern
Town; House of Peter; Baths; University; Mount Tor, or Tabor; Description
by Pococke, Maundrell, Burckhardt, and Doubdan; View from the Top; Great
Plain; Nazareth; Church of Annunciation; Workshop of Joseph; Mount of
Precipitation; Table of Christ; Cana, or Kefer Kenna; Waterpots of Stone;
Saphet, or Szaffad; University; French; Sidney Smith; Dan; Sepphoris;
Church of St. Anne; Description by Dr. Clarke; Vale of Zabulon; Vicinity
of Acre.

Upon leaving the northern gate of Jerusalem, on the road which leads to
Damascus, there is seen a large grotto much venerated by Christians,
Turks, and Jews, said to have been for some time the residence, or rather
the prison, of the prophet Jeremiah. The bed of the holy man is shown, in
the form of a rocky shelf, about eight feet from the ground; and the spot
is likewise pointed out on which he is understood to have written his book
of Lamentations. In the days of Maundrell, this excavation was occupied by
a college of dervises.

We have already alluded to the Sepulchres of the Kings as very singular
remains of ancient architecture, and standing at a little distance from
the city. There still prevails some obscurity in regard to the origin and
intention of these places of burial, occasioned chiefly by the fact
recorded in Holy Scripture, that the tombs of the kings of Judah were on
Mount Zion. Pococke held the opinion, that they derived their name from
Helena, the queen of Adiabene, whose body was deposited in a cave outside
the northern wall of Jerusalem; a conclusion which derives some
countenance from the language of Josephus, and has been adopted by Dr.
Clarke. M. de Chateaubriand, on the contrary, supposes these grottoes to
have been appropriated to the family of Herod; and in support of his views
quotes a passage from the Jewish historian, who, speaking of the wall
which Titus erected to press Jerusalem still more closely than before,
says, that "this wall, returning towards the north, enclosed the sepulchre
of Herod." Now this, adds the Frenchman, is the situation of the royal

But whoever was buried here, this is certain, to use the words of the
accurate Maundrell, that the place itself discovers so great an expense
both of labour and treasure, that we may well suppose it to have been the
work of kings. You approach it on the east side through an entrance cut
out of the rock, which admits you into an open court of about forty paces
square. On the south side is a portico nine paces long and four broad,
likewise hewn out of the natural rock, and having an architrave running
along its front adorned with sculpture of fruits and flowers. The passage
into the sepulchre is now so greatly obstructed with stones and rubbish
that it is no easy matter to creep through; but having overcome this
difficulty you arrive at a large room, seven or eight yards square,
excavated in the solid body of the hill. It sides and ceiling are so
exactly square, and its angles so just, that no architect could form a
more regular apartment; while the whole is so firm and entire, that it
resembles a chamber hollowed out of one piece of marble. From this room
you pass into six others, all of the same construction; the two innermost
being somewhat deeper than the rest, and are descended to by a certain
number of steps.

In every one of these, except the first, were coffins of stone placed in
niches formed in the sides of the chamber. They had at first been covered
with handsome lids; but the most of them have been long broken to pieces,
and either scattered about the apartment, or entirely removed. One of
white marble was observed by Dr. Clarke, adorned all over with the richest
and most beautiful carving; though, like all the other sculptured work in
the tombs, it represented nothing of the human figure, nor of any living
thing, but consisted entirely of foliage and flowers, and principally of
the leaves and branches of the vine. The receptacles for the dead bodies
are not much larger than European coffins; but, having the more regular
form of parallelograms, they thereby differ from the usual appearance
presented in the sepulchral crypts of the country, where the soros is of
considerable size, and generally resembles a cistern. The taste manifested
in the interior of these chambers seems also to denote a later period in
the history of the arts; the skill and neatness visible in the carving is
admirable, and there is much of ornament displayed in several parts of the

But the most surprising thing belonging to these subterranean chambers is
their doors; of which, when Mr. Maundrell visited Jerusalem, there was
still one remaining. "It consisted," says he, "of a plank of stone of
about six inches in thickness, and in its other dimensions equalling the
size of an ordinary door, or somewhat less. It was carved in such a manner
as to resemble a piece of wainscot: the stone of which it was made was
visibly of the same kind with the whole rock; and it turned upon two
hinges in the nature of axles. These hinges were of the same entire piece
of stone with the door, and were contained in two holes of the immoveable
rock, one at the top and another at the bottom."[128]

We are informed by Dr. Clarke, that the same sort of contrivance is to be
found among the sepulchres at Telmessus; and, moreover, that the ancients
had the art of being able to close these doors in such a manner that no
one could have access to the tomb who was not acquainted with the secret
method of opening them, unless by violating the abode of the dead, and
forcing a passage through the stone. This has been done in several
instances at the place just named; but the doors, though broken, still
remain closed with their hinges unimpaired.[129]

In pursuing the road to Nablous, the ancient Shechem, the first village
which meets the eye of the traveller is Beer, so named from the well or
spring where the wayfaring man stops to quench his thirst. The
inhabitants, who appear to be chiefly Arabs, are in the greatest poverty,
oppressed and alarmed by the incessant demands of their Turkish rulers. It
is the Michmash of Scripture, celebrated as the place whither Jotham fled
from the anger of his brother Abimelech. It presents, too, the remains of
an old church, created, as tradition reports, by the pious Helena, on tho
spot where the Virgin sat down to bewail the absence of her son, who had
tarried behind in Jerusalem to commune with the doctors in the Temple.

Beyond this interesting hamlet, at the distance of about four hours, is
Leban, called Lebonah in the Bible, a village situated on the eastern side
of a delicious vale. The road between these two places is carried through
a wild and very hilly country, destitute of trees or other marks of
cultivation, and rendered almost totally unproductive by the barbarism of
the government. In a narrow dell, formed by two lofty precipices, are the
ruins of a monastery, being in the neighborhood of that mystic Bethel
where Jacob enjoyed his vision of heavenly things, and had his stony couch
made easy by the beautiful picture of ministering angels ascending and
descending from the presence of the Eternal.

The next object of interest is connected with the name of the same
patriarch. It is Jacob's Well,--the scene of the memorable conference
between our Saviour and the woman of Samaria. Such a locality was too
important to be omitted by Helena while selecting sites for Christian
churches. Over it, accordingly, was erected a large edifice; of which,
however, the "voracity of time, aided by the Turks," has left nothing but
a few foundations remaining. Maundrell tells us that "the well is covered
at present with an old stone vault, into which you are let down through a
very straight hole; and then removing a broad flat stone you discover the
mouth of the well itself. It is dug in a firm rock, and extends about
three yards in diameter and thirty-five in depth; five of which we found
full of water. This confutes a story commonly told to travellers who do
not take the pains to examine the well, namely, that it is dry all the
year round except on the anniversary of that day on which our Blessed Lord
sat upon it; but then bubbles up with abundance of water."[130]

At this point the traveller enters the narrow valley of Shechem, or
Sychar, as it is termed in the New Testament, overhung on either side by
the two mountains Gerizim and Ebal. These eminences, it is well known,
have obtained much celebrity as the theatre on which was pronounced the
sanction of the Divine law--the blessings which attend obedience, and the
curses which follow the violation of the heavenly statutes. "And it shall
come to pass, when the Lord thy God hath brought thee in unto the land
whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon
Mount Gerizim, and the curse upon Mount Ebal. Are they not on the other
side Jordan, by the way where the sun goeth down, in the land of the
Canaanites, which dwell in the champaign over against Gilgal, beside the
plains of Moreh?"[131]

Every reader is aware that the Samaritans, whose principal residence since
the captivity has been at Shechem, have a place of worship on Mount
Gerizim, to which they repair at certain seasons to perform the rites of
their religion. It was upon the same hill, according to the reading in
their version of the Pentateuch, that the Almighty commanded the children
of Israel to set up great stones covered with plaster, on which to
inscribe the body of their law; to erect an altar; to offer
peace-offerings; and to rejoice before the Lord their God. In the Hebrew
edition of the same inspired books, Mount Ebal is selected as the scene of
these pious services;--a variation which the Samaritans openly ascribe to
the hatred and malignity of the Jews, who, they assert, have in this
passage corrupted the sacred oracles. In the immediate vicinity of the
town is seen a small mosque, which is said to cover the sepulchre of
Joseph, and to be situated in the field bought by Jacob from Hamor, the
father of Shechem, as is related in the book of Genesis, and alluded to by
St. John in the fourth chapter of his gospel.[132]

The road from Leban to Nablous, or Naplosa, is described by Dr. Clarke as
being mountainous, rocky, and full of loose stones. Yet, he adds, the
cultivation is everywhere marvellous; affording one of the most striking
pictures of human industry that it is possible to behold. The limestone
rocks and shingly valleys of Judea are entirely covered with plantations
of figs, vines, and olive-trees; not a single spot seemed to be neglected.
The hills, from their bases to their upmost summits, are overspread with
gardens; all of them free from weeds, and in the highest state of
improvement. Even the sides of the most barren mountains have been
rendered fertile, by being divided into terraces, like steps rising one
above another, upon which soil has been accumulated with astonishing
labour. A sight of this territory can alone convey any adequate idea of
its surprising produce; it is truly the Eden of the East, rejoicing in the
abundance of its wealth. The effect of this upon the people was strikingly
portrayed in their countenances. Instead of the depressed and gloomy looks
seen on the desolated plains belonging to the Pasha of Damascus, health
and hilarity everywhere prevailed. Under a wise and beneficent government,
the produce of the Holy Land, it is asserted, would exceed all
calculation. Its perennial harvests, the salubrity of its air, its limpid
springs, its rivers, lakes, plains, hills, and vales, added to the
serenity of its climate, prove this land to be indeed a "field which the
Lord hath blessed."[133]

The ancient Shechem is one of the most prosperous towns in the Holy Land,
being still the metropolis of a rich and extensive country, and abounding
in agricultural wealth. Nor is there any thing finer than its appearance
when viewed from the heights by which it is surrounded. It strikes the eye
of the traveller who advances from the north, as being imbosomed in the
most delightful and fragrant bowers, half-concealed by rich gardens and
stately trees, collected into groves all round the beautiful valley in
which it stands. There is a considerable trade, as well as a flourishing
manufacture of soap; and the population has been reckoned as high as ten
thousand, an estimate, however, which Mr. Buckingham thinks somewhat
overrated. Within the town are six mosques, five baths, one Christian
church, an excellent covered bazaar for fine goods, and an open one for
provisions, besides numerous cotton-cloth manufactories, and shops of
every description. The inhabitants are chiefly Mohammedans. The Jews,
inheriting their ancient enmity towards the Samaritans, avoid the country
which the latter formerly possessed; while the Christians, alienated by
the suspicion of heresy among their brethren at Nablous, prefer the more
orthodox assemblies at Jerusalem and Nazareth.

The Samaritans themselves do not exceed forty in number. They have a
synagogue in the town, where they perform divine service every Saturday.
Four times a year they go in solemn procession to the old temple on Mount
Gerizim; on which occasion they meet before sunrise, and continue reading
the Law till noon. On one of these days they kill six or seven rams. They
have but one school in Nablous where their language is taught, though they
take much pride in preserving ancient manuscripts of their Pentateuch in
the original character. Mr. Connor saw a copy which is reported to be
three thousand five hundred years old, but was not allowed to examine, nor
even to touch it.

If any thing connected with the memory of past ages be calculated to
awaken local enthusiasm, the land around this city is eminently entitled
to that distinction. The sacred record of events transacted in the fields
of Shechem is from our earliest years remembered with delight. "Along the
valley," observes a late traveller, "we beheld a company of Ishmaelites
coming from Gilead, as in the days of Reuben and Judah, with their camels,
bearing spicery, and balm, and myrrh; who would gladly have purchased
another Joseph of his brethren, and-conveyed Him as a slave to some
Potiphar in Egypt. Upon the hills around flocks and herds were feeding as
of old; nor in the simple garb of the shepherds of Samaria was there any
thing to contradict the notions we may entertain of the appearance
formerly exhibited by the sons of Jacob."[134]

It has been remarked in reference to Jacob's Well, where our Lord held his
conversation with the woman of Samaria, that no Christian scholar ever
read the fourth chapter of St. John's Gospel without being struck with the
numerous internal evidences of truth which crowd upon the mind in its
perusal. Within so small a compass it is impossible to find, in other
writings, so many sources of reflection and of interest. Independently of
its importance as a theological document, it concentrates so much
information that a volume might be filled with its singular illustration
of the history of the Jews and the geography of the country. All that can
be collected upon these subjects from Josephus seems to be but a comment
on this chapter. The journey of our Lord from Judea into Galilee--the
cause of it--his passage through Samaria--his approach to the metropolis
of that country--its name--his arrival at the Amorite field which
terminates the narrow Valley of Schechem--the ancient custom of stopping
at a well--the female employment of drawing water--the disciples sent into
the city for food, by which the situation of the well and of the town is
so obviously implied--the question of the woman referring to existing
prejudices which separated the Jews from the Samaritans--the depth of the
well--the oriental allusion contained in the expression "living
water"--the history of the well itself, and the customs thereby
illustrated--the worship upon Mount Gerizim--all these occur within a few
verses, and supply a species of evidence for the truth of the narrative in
which they are embodied that no candid mind has ever been able to

The ancient Samaria presents itself to the traveller in these days under
the name of Sebaste, or the Venerable,--an appellation conferred upon it
by Herod in honour of his patron Augustus. The Jewish historian describes
at length the buildings erected by the Idumean prince, especially a
citadel, and a noble temple which he intended to exhibit to future
generations as a specimen of his taste and munificence. He adds, that the
town was twenty furlongs in circumference, and distant one day's journey
from Jerusalem. It is computed by modern tourists to be more than forty
miles. The situation is extremely beautiful as well as naturally strong,
being placed on a large hill encompassed all round by a broad deep valley,
and therefore capable of an easy and complete fortification. But the
splendid city of Herod is now reduced to a village, small and poor,
exhibiting only the remains of its former greatness. In one place,
according to Dr. Richardson, there are sixty columns of the Ionic order
extended in a single row, marking the site of some gorgeous structure
erected by the vassal of Augustus. Mr. Buckingham counted eighty-three of
these pillars, and alludes to a tradition current among the natives, that
they formed part of Herod's own palace. This may be the edifice mentioned
by Josephus, who says that the king just named built a sacred place of a
furlong and a half in circuit, and adorned it with all sorts of
decorations; and therein constructed a temple remarkable both for its
largeness and its beauty.

Mr. Maundrell relates, that in his time the place where the city had stood
was entirely converted into gardens; and all the tokens that remain to
testify that there ever was such a metropolis are only a large square
piazza surrounded with pillars, and some poor ruins of a church, said to
have been built by the Empress Helena over the place where St. John the
Baptist was both imprisoned and beheaded. In the body of this temple you
go down a staircase into the very dungeon where that holy blood was shed.
The Turks hold the prison in great veneration, and over it have erected a
small mosque; but for a little piece of money they suffer you to go in and
satisfy your curiosity at pleasure.

A hundred and thirty years, aided by the destructive habits of
Mohammedans, seem to have made a deep impression upon the remains of
Sebaste; for when Dr. Clarke passed through it, he could not discover even
the relics of a great city, and was, therefore, disposed to question the
existence of the splendid ruins mentioned by Maundrell, and more minutely
described by Richardson and Buckingham. He is inclined to identify the
site of the ancient Samaria with the high ground on which stands the
castle of Santorri; but his reasoning is not sufficiently cogent to
satisfy the mind even of the least reflecting among his readers.

At this point we leave the territory of Ephraim, and pass into that of the
half-tribe of Manasseh. Pursuing his course northwards, the traveller
reaches a small hamlet called Bethamareen; and afterward, at the distance
of three or four miles, he finds himself at Gibba, a village surrounded
with trees bearing olives and pomegranates, and occupying a lofty station
over a narrow valley. This place is succeeded by Sannour, which appears to
be nothing more than a castle erected on an insular hill, and is more
commonly known by the name of Fort Giurali. Another village, called Abati,
presents itself on the right-hand, imbosomed in a grove of fruit trees;
but the stranger, desirous to proceed, advances along the valley until,
after having ascended a rising ground, he beholds stretched out at his
feet the fine plain of Esdraelon covered with the richest pasture.[136]

On the slope of the hill which bounds the southern extremity of this
fertile valley stands the town of Jennin, a place, like most of the cities
of Palestine, more remarkable for decayed grandeur than for actual wealth,
beauty, or power. Its ancient name was Ginoa, and it is found recorded in
the works of some of the older writers as a frontier place between Samaria
and Galilee. The population at present is said to amount to about eight
hundred; but the ruins of a palace and a mosque prove that it once
possessed a greater importance than now belongs to it. Marble pillars,
fountains, and even piazzas still remain in a very perfect state; an
Arabic inscription over one of which induces the reader to believe that it
was erected by a commander named Selim.

Instead of pursuing our course towards Nazareth and the Lake of Tiberias,
we shall now cross the Jordan into the Land of Gilead, and lay before our
readers a brief outline of the discoveries which have been recently made
in that section of Palestine, the inheritance of Reuben and of Gad. We
have already remarked, that to the indefatigable exertions of Dr. Seetzen
the world are indebted for much of the knowledge they possess relative to
the ancient city of Geraza, the ruins of which are pointed out by the
Arabs under the name of Djarash.

Approaching it from the south, the traveller first observes a triumphal
gateway, nearly entire, bearing a striking resemblance in point of
workmanship to the remains of Antinoe in Upper Egypt. The front presents
four columns of a small diameter, and constructed of many separate pieces
of stone; their pedestals are of a square form, but tall and slender. On
each of these is placed a design of leaves, very like a Corinthian capital
without the volutes; and on this again rises the shaft, which is plain,
and composed of many small portions. As all the columns were broken near
the top, the crowning capitals are not seen. The pediment and frieze are
also destroyed; but enough remains to give an accurate idea of the
original design, and to prove that the order of the architecture was
Corinthian. The building appears to have been a detached triumphal arch,
erected for the entrance of some victorious hero passing into the city.

Just within this gateway is perceived an extensive naumachia, or theatre
for the exhibition of sea-fights, constructed of fine masonry, and
finished on the top with a large moulding wrought in the stone. The
channels for filling it with water are still visible. Passing onward there
is seen a second gateway, exactly similar in design to the one already
mentioned, but connected here on both sides with the walls of the city, to
which it seems to have formed the proper entrance. Turning to the left the
stranger advances into a large and beautiful colonnade arrange in a
circular form, all of the Ionic order, and surmounted by an architrave. He
next perceives beyond this point a long avenue of columns in a straight
line, supposed to mark the direction of some principal street that led
through the whole length of the town. These columns are all of the
Corinthian order, and the range on each side is ascended to by a flight of

Making his way along this imaginary street over masses of ruins, his
attention is attracted by four magnificent pillars of greater height and
larger diameter than the rest; but, like all the others, supporting only a
entablature, and probably standing before the front of some principal
edifice now destroyed. He next arrives at a square formed by the first
intersection of the main street by one crossing it at right angles, and,
like it also, apparently once lined on both sides by an avenue of columns.
At the point of intersection are four masses of building resembling
pedestals; on the top of which there probably stood small Corinthian
columns, as shafts and capitals of that order are now scattered below.
Passing the fragments of a solid wall on the left, which appears to have
constituted the front of a large edifice, the tourist next comes to the
ruins of a temple of a semicircular form, with four columns in front, and
facing the principal street in a right line. The spring of its half-dome
is still remaining, as well as several columns of yellow marble and of red
granite. The whole seems to have been executed with peculiar care,
especially the sculpture of the friezes, cornices, pediments, and
capitals, which are all of the Corinthian order, and considered not less
rich and chaste than the works of the best ages. On a broken altar near
this ruin is observed an inscription, containing the name of Marcus
Aurelius. "Beyond this, again," says Mr. Buckingham, "we had temples,
colonnades, theatres, arched buildings with domes, detached groups of
Ionic and Corinthian columns, bridges, aqueducts, and portions of large
buildings scattered here and there in our way; none of which we could
examine with any degree of attention, from the restraint under which our
guides had placed us."[137]

The author of the unpublished journal from which we have already drawn
some rich materials, inspected the remains of Geraza three years ago. "We
set out for the ruins, and reached them before sunrise. Having seen them
only partially by a faint light and from a distance the previous evening,
I had not formed a high opinion of them, and wondered that they should
ever have been brought into comparison with Palmyra. A full examination
now altered my decision, and left me and all the party full of admiration
at the grandeur and the elegance of the ruins. We were struck with the
view down the main street of the city. Close to us was a temple, a fine
mass of building, surrounded by innumerable fallen columns and ruined
cornices. Beneath was the great street, commencing in an elegant circular
or rather oval colonnade of fifty-seven pillars, and containing a
succession of straight colonnades on each side, crossed at right angles by
another line of columns with an entablature. On one side was a splendid
temple with columns, on a height; and on the other a bridge crossing the
stream on which the ruins stand. Close to this temple is a theatre in
remarkably high repair; almost all the seats are quite entire. The
proscenium is still sufficiently so to give a complete idea of the plan;
and it is easy to sit on one of the benches and fancy a Greek play
performing to a Gerazan audience as it was seventeen hundred years ago.
Proceeding northward along the great street, we soon came to a building
which seemed to me one of the finest things in Jerash. It was a sort of
semicircular temple, in front of which had been a portico of Corinthian
columns, composing part of the grand colonnade. I do not think they can be
under fifty feet in height, and their form is very elegant. The
semicircular building itself is covered with a half-dome, and ornamented
with particular richness and beauty. It is remarkable throughout these
ruins, how admirably the columns and buildings are disposed for producing
effect in combination. Of two bridges, a good deal of the one to the east
remains, and the arches reach across the river, though it is not passable,
owing to the destruction of the upper part. There is a paved road between
the colonnades leading from the bridge."

The ground occupied by this city, which was nearly in the form of a
square, might have been, enclosed by a line of four English miles in
length; the distance from the ruined gateway on the south to the small
temple on the north being about five thousand feet. It stood on the
corresponding sloes of two opposite hills, with a narrow but not a deep
valley between them, through which ran a clear stream of water, springing
from fountains near the centre of the town, and bending its way thence to
the southward. But so complete is the desolation of this once magnificent
place, that Bedouin Arabs now encamp among its ruins for the sake of the
rivulet by which they are washed, as they would collect near a well in the
midst of their native desert. Such portions of the soil as are still
cultivated, are ploughed by men who have no property in it; and the same
spot accordingly is occupied by different persons every succeeding year,
as time and chance may happen to direct.

Mr. Buckingham thinks that the similarity of situation, as well as of
name, would lead to the conclusion that this Jerash of the Arabs is the
same with the Gergasha of the Hebrews. Reland gives a variety of
derivations, quoted from Pliny, Jamblichus, Epiphanius, and Origen; all of
which are much more satisfactory as they regard the position of a certain
town in the Land of Gilead, than as they convey any precise ideas as to
its etymological import. After the Romans conquered Judea, the country
beyond the Jordan became one of their favourite colonies; to which, from
the circumstance of its containing ten cities, they gave the name of
Decapolis, an appellation recognised by St. Mark in the seventh chapter of
his Gospel. Geraza, it is presumed, was one of those cities; and although
its history is darkened with more than the usual doubt which attaches to
the Jewish annals after the fall of Jerusalem, there is reason to believe
that in the time of Vespasian it suffered the penalty of rebellion, and
was finally destroyed by the Saracens when they attacked the eastern
boundaries of the empire.

We must satisfy ourselves with a mere glance at the hills of Gilead; the
rich pasture-lands of the tribe of Reuben, and formerly the kingdom of the
gigantic Og, the monarch of Bashan. It is well known that the Valley of
the Jordan is bounded on the east by a range of mountains still more lofty
than those which skirt its western limits; but it was not suspected till
lately that the former concealed in their recesses some of the richest
scenery and most valuable land anywhere to be found in Palestine. Rising
gradually from the bed of the river, the traveller soon finds himself on a
platform seven or eight hundred feet above its level; forming a district
of extraordinary fertility, abounding with the most beautiful prospects,
clothed with thick forests, diversified with verdant slopes, and
possessing extensive plains of a fine soil, yielding in nothing to the
most prolific parts of Galilee and Samaria. "We continued our way," says
Mr. Buckingham, "to the north-east, through a country, the beauty of which
so surprised us, that we often asked each other what were our sensations;
as if to ascertain the reality of what we saw, and persuade each other by
mutual confessions of our delight, that the picture before us was not an
optical illusion. The landscape alone, which varied at every turn, and
gave us new beauties from any point of view, was of itself worth all the
pains of an excursion to the eastward of the Jordan; and the park-like
scenes that sometimes softened the romantic wildness of the general
character as a whole, reminded us of similar spots in less neglected

The scenery continues of the same fascinating description till the
traveller reaches the Nahr el Zerkah, or river Jabbok, the ancient
boundary between the Amorites and the Children of Ammon. The banks are
thickly clothed with the oleander and plane-tree, the wild olive and
almond, and many flowering-shrubs of great variety and elegance. The
stream is about thirty feet broad, deeper than the Jordan, and nearly as
rapid, rushing downwards over a rocky channel. On the northern side begins
the kingdom of Bashan, celebrated for its oaks, its cattle, and the bodily
strength of its inhabitants. The opposite plate exhibits a view of the
Jabbok, and of the bold Alpine range which fenced the territory of one of
the most formidable enemies of Israel; verifying in its fullest extent the
description of Moses, who says, "The border of the children of Ammon was

The curious reader will find in the Travels of Mr. Buckingham some
ingenious reasoning employed by him to fix the locality of Bozor, Ramoth,
Jabesh, and other towns situated in Gilead, and which were rendered
important by the various events recorded in the sacred volume.

About six miles from Djerash towards the north stands the village of Souf,
on the brow of a lofty hill, and flanked by a deep ravine. It retains
several marks of having been the site of some more ancient and
considerable town, presenting large blocks of stone with mouldings and
sculpture wrought into the modern buildings. In the neighbourhood are seen
the walls of an edifice apparently Roman, as also the ruins of two small
towers which may with equal certainty be traced to the age of Saracenic
domination. Souf can boast of nearly five hundred inhabitants, all rigid
Mohammedans, and remarkable for a surly and suspicious character.

Leaving this rather inhospitable village, the traveller who wishes to
visit the remains of Gamala proceeds in a north-westerly direction,
descending into a fine valley, and again rising on a gentle ascent, the
whole being profusely and beautifully wooded with evergreen oaks below,
and pines upon the ridge of the hill above. "Mr. Bankes, who had seen the
whole of England, the greater part of Italy and France, and almost every
province of Spain and Portugal, frequently remarked, that in all his
travels he had met with nothing equal to it, excepting only in some parts
of the latter country,--Entre Minho and Douro,--to which alone he could
compare it."[140]

Several hamlets and some obscure indications of ancient buildings meet the
eye in course of the journey to Om Keis. Before reaching this town, the
road emerges into a hilly district, bleak, rocky, and ill-cultivated. The
view is as monotonous as that from Jerusalem, forming a striking contrast
to the rich, verdant, and beautiful scenery which distinguishes Bashan and

Gamala, for under that name the ruins of the Roman station are most
familiarly known, must have covered a site nearly square; its greatest
length, from east to west, being seventeen hundred short paces, and its
breadth about one-fourth less. A considerable portion of it seems to have
stood on the summit of a hill, well fortified all round; the traces of
towers and other works of defence being still visible even on its steepest
parts. The portals of the eastern gate remain, from whence a noble street
appears to have run through the whole length of the city, lined by a
handsome colonnade of Ionic and Corinthian pillars. The pavement is formed
of square blocks of black volcanic stone, and is still so perfect, that
the ruts of wheel-carriages are to be seen in it, of different breadths
and about an inch in depth, as at the ruins of Pompeii and

The first edifice which presents itself on entering the eastern gate is a
theatre, the scene and front of which are entirely destroyed, but the
benches are preserved. Still farther on are appearances of an Ionic
temple, the colonnade of the street being continued; and about half-way
along is a range of Corinthian pillars on pedestals, marking the position
of some grand edifice. Not a column, indeed, continues erect, but the plan
can be distinctly traced. This supposed temple must have been a hundred
paces in depth from north to south; and its facade, which fronted the
street and came in a line with the grand colonnade already mentioned,
cannot have been less than a hundred and eighty feet in breadth. The chief
peculiarity of this structure, however, consists in its having been built
on a range of fine arches, so that its foundations were higher than the
general level of the town; and hence, as the pedestals of the columns were
elevated considerably above the street, it must have presented a very
striking object.

There are the remains of numerous other edifices, theatres, and temples,
but they are all too indistinct to enable even a professional eye to
pronounce with confidence on their plan and particular purpose. The
prevalent orders of architecture are Ionic and Corinthian, though some few
capitals decidedly Doric are discovered among the ruins. The stone
generally used throughout the city is that of the neighbouring
mountains,--a species of gray rock approaching to a carbonate of lime; but
the shafts of some of the pillars are formed of a black substance,
supposed to have a volcanic origin, and most commonly preferred for the
internal decorations of funereal vaults and sarcophagi.[142]

As the ruins here described are not immediately on the position usually
assigned to Gamala on the maps, and as Dr. Seetzen, the only person
besides Mr. Buckingham who has published any account of them, thinks that
they are those of Gadara, the latter enters into a lengthened discussion
in support of his own views, calling in the authority of several ancient
writers to establish his position. The reader will find that much of the
ambiguity which prevails on this point arises from the fact of there being
in different parts of Canaan several towns of the same name. For example,
there was unquestionably a place called Gadara on the eastern shore of the
Lake of Tiberias; while from the testimony of Josephus, it is equally
certain that the same appellation was given to the capital of Perea. In
the New Testament, the country of the Gadarenes is described as being on
the other side of the sea, over-against Galilee, a notice which removes
all doubt from the opinion of those who maintain the existence of a town
or village, named Gadara; situated to the northward of the site generally
claimed for Gamala, and nearer the body of the lake.

Mr. Buckingham tells us, that the account given in the gospel of the
habitation of the demoniac, out of whom the legion of devils was cast,
struck him very forcibly while wandering among savage mountains and
surrounded by tombs, still used as houses by individuals and even by,
whole families. A finer occasion for expressing the passions of madness in
all their violence, contrasted with the serene virtue and benevolence of
Him who went about continually doing good, could hardly be chosen for the
pencil of an artist; and a faithful delineation of the rugged and wild
majesty of the mountain scenery on the one hand, with the still calm of
the lake on the other, would give an additional charm to the picture.[143]

Amid the interesting ruins of Gamala, situated in a barren district, alike
unfavourable for agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, it is impossible
not to be surprised at the indications of wealth and luxury which must
have centred within its walls. The opulence cannot but have been
considerable which erected such splendid temples and colonnades, and
supported two large theatres; erecting, at the same time, such massive
tombs and splendid sarcophagi for all classes of the population. Its
desolation may be traced to the rebellious spirit of the inhabitants, and
the sanguinary wars to which it led under successive emperors. Vespasian,
whose name is so closely associated with the history of Palestine for good
and for evil, directed against it on more than one occasion the fury of
the Roman legions, and finally levelled its walls, that they might not
again be defended by such desperate insurgents. At a later period, its
remote situation withdrew it from the attention of Europeans; and, in
truth, its very existence had ceased to be remembered, until its ruins
were once more visited by travellers in the course of the present century.

Passing along the eastern border of the hike, and advancing towards its
northern extremity, the traveller easily recognises that desert place
where the multitude was fed upon the miraculous loaves and fishes. Here,
too, was the scene of the remarkable punishment inflicted upon the
Gadarenes for their insensibility to Divine instruction, as well, perhaps,
as for their unhallowed pursuit in feeding animals forbidden by the law of
Moses. The brink of the water presents many steep places where such a
catastrophe might be easily realized.

At the upper end of the lake are the remains of Capernaum, now called
Talhewm, or Tel Hoom, situated about ten miles from Tiberias, in a
north-easterly direction. This village, although at present nothing more
than a station of Bedouins, appears to have been occupied in former times
by a settlement of some importance, as the ruins of stately buildings are
found scattered over a wide space in the neighbourhood. The foundations of
a magnificent edifice can still be traced; but the structure itself is so
much dilapidated that it is no longer possible to determine whether it was
a temple or a palace. The northern end is sixty-five paces in length, and,
as the eastern wall seems to have extended to the edge of the water, its
length could not be less than five hundred feet. Within this space are
seen large blocks of sculptured stone, in friezes, cornices, and

The appearance of the Sea of Galilee, as seen from this point of view at
Capernaum, is very grand. Its greatest length runs nearly north and south,
from fifteen to eighteen miles, while its breadth averages from five to
six. The barren aspect of the mountains on each side, and the total
absence of wood, give, however, a cast of dulness to the picture; and this
is increased even to a feeling of melancholy by the dead calm of its
surface, and the silence which reigns throughout its whole extent, where
not a boat or vessel of any kind is to be found. No fisherman any longer
plies his laborious craft on the bosom of the lake, nor seeks to vary his
scanty meal by letting down his net for a draught. Mr. Buckingham
observed, from the heights above, shoals of fish darting through the
water, and the shore in some places covered with storks and diving-birds,
which repair hither in search of food; but when, on one occasion, he
suggested that a supper might be procured for his party by exercising a
little skill with the rod or net, he discovered that the ignorant
barbarians whom he addressed had not yet taken a lesson from the fowls of
the air.

A circumstance deserving of notice is mentioned by Hasselquist, in regard
to the tenants of this lake. He thought it remarkable that the same kind
of fish should be here met with as in the Nile,--charmuth, silurus,
baenni, mulsil, and sparus Galilaeus. This explains the observations of
certain travellers, who speak of the Sea of Tiberias as possessing fish
peculiar to itself; not being acquainted perhaps with the produce of the
Egyptian river. Josephus was of the same opinion; and yet it is worthy of
remark, that in describing the fountain of Capernaum his conjectures tend
to confirm the conclusions of the Swedish naturalist:--

"Some consider it," says the Jewish historian, "as a vein of the Nile,
because it brings forth fishes resembling the coracinus of the Alexandrian

That Capernaum was a place of some wealth and consequence in the time of
our Saviour may be inferred from the expostulation addressed to it, when
he upbraided the other cities wherein most of his mighty works were
done:--"Wo unto thee, Chorazin! Wo unto thee, Bethsaida! And thou,
Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell."
But the history of all the towns on the lake of Genesareth has been
covered with a cloud which it is now impossible to penetrate; and nothing,
accordingly, is more difficult than to determine the situations occupied,
even during the latter period of the Roman ascendency, by some of the
principal places on which the emperors lavished their wealth and taste.
Bethsaida was converted by Herod from an insignificant village into the
dignity and grandeur of a city, named Julias, in compliment to the
daughter of Augustus. At the present moment, however, no traces remain to
point out the line of its walls or the foundations of its palaces.
Genesareth has in like manner disappeared; or if there be any relics of
the town which once gave its name to the inland sea whose shore it
adorned, they are so indistinct and ambiguous as not to merit the notice
of the traveller. Tarachea is represented by the hamlet of Sumuk, and the
ruins of Chorazin are imagined to meet the eye somewhere on the opposite
coast; but, upon the whole, the denunciation uttered against the
unbelieving cities of Galilee has been literally fulfilled, as they are
now brought down to the lowest pitch of obscurity and oblivion.[145]

Tiberias is the only place on the Sea of Galilee which retains any marks
of its ancient importance. It is understood to cover the ground formerly
occupied by a town of a much remoter age, and of which some traces can
still be distinguished on the beach, a little to the southward of the
present walls. History relates that it was built by Herod the Tetrarch,
and dedicated to the Emperor Tiberius, his patron, although there
prevails, at the same time, an obscure tradition, that the new city owed
its foundation entirely to the imperial pleasure, and was named by him who
commanded it to be erected. Josephus notices the additional circumstance,
which of itself gives great probability to the opinion of its being
established on the ruins of an older town, that, as many sepulchres were
removed in order to make room for the Roman structures, the Jews could
hardly be induced to occupy houses which, according to their notions, were
legally impure. Adrichomius considers Tiberias to be the Chinneroth of the
Hebrews; and says, that it was captured by Benhadad, king of Syria, who
destroyed it, and was in after-ages restored by Herod; who surrounded it
with walls, and adorned it with magnificent buildings. The old Jewish
city, whatever was its name, probably owed its existence to the fame of
its hot baths,--an origin to which many temples, and even the cities
belonging to them, may be traced.

The present town of Tabaria, as it is now called, is in the form of an
irregular crescent, and is enclosed towards the land by a wall flanked
with circular towers. It lies nearly north and south along the edge of the
lake, and has its eastern front so close to the water, on the brink of
which it stands, that some of the houses are washed by the sea: The whole
does not appear more than a mile in circuit, and cannot, from the manner
in which they are placed, contain above 500 separate dwellings. There are
two gates visible from without, one near the southern and the other in the
western wall; there are appearances also of the town having been
surrounded by a ditch, but this is now filled up and used for gardens.

The interior presents but few subjects of interest, among which are a
mosque with a dome and minaret, and two Jewish synagogues. There is a
Christian place of worship called the House of Peter, which is thought by
some to be the oldest building used for that purpose in any part of
Palestine. It is a vaulted room, thirty feet long by fifteen broad, and
perhaps fifteen in height, standing nearly east and west, with its door of
entrance at the western front, and its altar immediately opposite in a
shallow recess. Over the door is one small window, and on each side four
others, all arched and open. The structure is of a very ordinary kind,
both in workmanship and material; the pavement within is similar to that
used for streets in this country; and the walls are entirely devoid of
sculpture or any other architectural ornament. But it derives no small
interest from the popular belief that it is the very house which Peter
inhabited at the time of his being called from his boat to follow the
Messias. It is manifest, notwithstanding, that it must have been
originally constructed for a place of divine worship, and probably at a
period much later than the days of the apostle whose name it bears,
although there is no good ground for questioning the tradition which
places it on the very spot long venerated as the site of his more humble
habitation. Here too it was, say the dwellers in Tiberias, that he pushed
off his boat into the lake when about to have his faith rewarded by the
miraculous draught of fishes.[146]

Besides the public buildings already specified are the house of the aga,
on the rising ground near the northern quarter of the town, a small
bazaar, and two or three coffee sheds; the ordinary dwellings of the
inhabitants are such as are commonly seen in eastern villages, but are
marked by a peculiarity which Mr. Buckingham witnessed there for the first
time. On the terrace of almost every house stands a small square enclosure
of reeds, loosely covered with leaves; to which, he learned, heads of
families are wont to resort during the summer months, when, from the low
situation of the town and the absence of cooling breezes, the heat of the
nights is literally intolerable.[147]

According to the opinion of the best informed among the inhabitants, the
population of Tiberias (or Tabareeah, as they pronounce it) does not
exceed two thousand. Of these about one-half are Jews, many of whom are
from Europe, particularly from Germany, Russia, and Poland; the rest are
Mohammedans, with the exception of twenty or thirty Christian families who
profess the tenets of the Latin church.

The warm baths, which have given celebrity to that neighbourhood, are
still found at the distance of between two and three miles southward from
the town. The building erected on the spring is small and mean, and
altogether the work of the present rulers of Palestine. The bath itself is
a square room of eighteen or twenty feet, covered with a low dome, and
having seats or benches on each side. The cistern for containing the hot
water is in the centre of this room, and sunk below the pavement. It is a
square of eight or nine feet only, and the spring rises to supply it
through a small head of some animal but this is so badly executed that it
is difficult to know for what it was intended. Mr. Buckingham states, that
his thermometer, when immersed in the water, instantly rose to 130 deg., which
was the utmost limit of the instrument. He is satisfied, however, that the
heat was much greater, because is was painful to the hand as it issued
from the spout, and could only be borne by those who had bathed in the

Tiberias makes a conspicuous figure in the Jewish annals, and was the
scene of some of the most remarkable events which are recorded by
Josephus. After the downfall of Jerusalem, it continued until the fifth
century to be the residence of Jewish patriarchs, rabbis, and learned
men. A university was established within its boundaries; and as the
patriarchate was allowed to be hereditary, the remnant of the Hebrew
people enjoyed a certain degree of weight and consequence during the
greater part of four centuries. In the sixth age, if we may confide in the
accuracy of Procopius, the Emperor Justinian rebuilt the walls; but in the
following century, the seventh of the Christian era, the city was taken by
the Saracens, under Calif Omar, who stripped it of its privileges, and
demolished some of its finest edifices. It must not be concealed, however,
that in the Itinerary of Willibald, who performed his journey into the
Holy Land towards the close of the eighth century, mention is made of many
churches and synagogues which the conquerors had either not destroyed or
allowed to be repaired.[149]

From Tiberias to Nazareth the traveller has to encounter an almost
uninterrupted ascent. The village of Caber Sabet first attracts his
attention by its architectural remains, indicating the existence of an
ancient building, which must have had marble columns and a magnificent
portico. He soon afterwards reaches Soak el Khan,--a place chiefly
celebrated for a weekly market, where every description of commodity in
use among the people is collected for sale. It also presents the ruins of
a Saracenic fort of a square shape, with circular towers at the angles and
in the centre of each wall.

In pursuing this route we have Mount Tor, or Tabor, on the left-hand,
rising in solitary majesty from the Plain of Esdraelon. Its appearance has
been described by some authors as that of a half-sphere, while to others
it suggests the idea of a cone with its point struck off. According to Mr.
Maundrell, the height is such as to require the labour of an hour to reach
the summit; where is seen a level area of an oval figure, extending about
two furlongs in length and one in breadth. It is enclosed with trees on
all sides except the south, and is most fertile and delicious. Having been
anciently surrounded with walls and trenches, there are remains of
considerable fortifications at the present day. Burckhardt says, a thick
wall, constructed of large stones, may be traced quite round the summit,
close to the edge of the precipice; on several parts of which are relics
of bastions. The area too is overspread with the ruins of private
dwellings, built of stone with great solidity.

Pococke assures us that it is one of the finest hills he ever beheld,
being a rich soil that produces excellent herbage, and most beautifully
adorned with groves and clumps of trees. The height he calculates to be
about two miles, making allowance for the winding ascent; but he adds,
that others have imagined the same path to be not less than four miles.
Hasselquist conjectures that it is a league to the top, the whole of which
may be accomplished without dismounting,--a statement amply confirmed by
the experience of Van Egmont and Heyman. These travellers relate that
"this mountain, though somewhat rugged and difficult, we ascended on
horseback, making several circuits round it, which took up about
three-quarters of an hour. It is one of the highest in the whole country,
being thirty stadia, or about four English miles. And it is the most
beautiful we ever saw with regard to verdure, being everywhere decorated
with small oak-trees, and the ground universally enamelled with a variety
of plants and flowers. There are great number of red partridges, and some
wild boars; and we were so fortunate as to see the Arabs hunting them. We
left, but not without reluctance, this delightful place, and found at the
bottom of it a mean village, called Deboura, or Tabour,--a name said to be
derived from the celebrated Deborah mentioned in the book of Judges."

But this mountain derives the largest share of its celebrity from the
opinion entertained among Christians since the days of Jerome, that it was
the scene of a memorable event in the history of our Lord. On the eastern
part of the hill are the remains of a strong castle; and within the
precincts of it is the grotto in which are three altars in memory of the
three tabernacles that St. Peter proposed to build, and where the Latin
friars always perform mass on the anniversary of the Transfiguration. It
is said there was a magnificent church built here by Helena, which was a
cathedral when this town was made a bishop's see. On the side of the hill
they show a church in a grot, were they say Christ charged his disciples
not to tell what things they had seen till he should be glorified.

It is very doubtful, however, whether this tradition be well founded, or
whether it has not, as Mr. Maundrell and other writers suspect, originated
in the misinterpretation of a very common Greek phrase. Our Saviour is
said to have taken with him Peter, James, and John, and brought them into
a high mountain "apart;" from which it has been rather hastily inferred
that the description must apply to Tabor, the only insulated and solitary
hill in the neighbourhood. We may remark, with the traveller just named,
that the conclusion may possibly be true, but that the argument used to
prove it seems incompetent; because the term "apart" most likely relates
to the withdrawing and retirement of the persons here spoken of, and not
to the situation of the mountain. In fact, it means nothing more than that
our Lord and his three disciples betook themselves to a private place for
the purpose of devotion.

The view from Mount Tabor is extolled by every traveller. "It is
impossible," says Maundrell, "for man's eyes to behold a higher
gratification of this nature." On the north-west you discern in the
distance the noble expanse of the Mediterranean, while all around you see
the spacious and beautiful plains of Esdraelon and Galilee. Turning a
little southward, you have in view the high mountains of Gilboa, so fatal
to Saul and his sons. Due east you discover the Sea of Tiberias, distant
about one day's journey. A few points to the north appears the Mount of
Beatitudes, the place where Christ delivered his sermon to his disciples
and the multitude. Not far from this little hill is the city of Saphet, or
Szaffad, standing upon elevated and very conspicuous ground. Still
farther, in the same direction, is seen a lofty peak covered with snow, a
part of the chain of Anti-Libanus. To the south-west is Carmel, and in the
south the hills of Samaria.[150]

The plain around, the most fertile part of the Land of Canaan, being one
vast meadow covered with the richest pasture, is the inheritance where the
tribe of Issachar "rejoiced in their tents." Here it was that Barak,
descending with his ten thousand men from Tabor, discomfited Sisera and
all his chariots. In the same neighbourhood Josiah, king of Judah, fought
in disguise against Necho, king of Egypt, and fell by the arrows of his
antagonist, deeply lamented. The great mourning in Jerusalem, foretold
by Zechariah, is said to be as the lamentations in the Plain of Esdraelon,
as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the Valley of Megiddon. Vespasian
reviewed his army in the same great plain. It has been a chosen place for
encampments in every contest carried on in this country, from the days of
Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians, down to the disastrous invasion of
Napoleon Bonaparte. Jews, Gentiles, Saracens, Egyptians, Persians, Druses,
Turks, Arabs, Christian Crusaders, and Antichristian Frenchmen,--warriors
out of every nation under heaven,--have pitched their tents upon the Plain
of Esdraelon, and have beheld their various banners wet with the dews of
Tabor and of Hermon. And shall we not add that here too is to be fought
the great battle of Armageddon, so well known to all interpreters of
prophecy, which is expected to change the aspect of the eastern world?
When the French invaded Syria in 1799, General Kleber was attacked near a
village called Fouleh, in the Great Plain, by an army of 25,000 Turks. At
the head of twelve or fifteen hundred men, whom he formed into a square,
he continued fighting from sunrise till midday, when he had expended all
his ammunition. Bonaparte, at length, informed of his perilous situation,
advanced to his support with six hundred soldiers; at the sight of whom
the enemy, after having lost several thousands in killed and wounded,
commenced a hurried retreat, in the course of which many of them were
drowned in the River Daboury, at that time, like another Kishon,
overflowing its banks. In a word, the champaign country which stretches
north-west from Tabor has been the theatre of real or of mimic warfare in
all ages. "We had the pleasure," says Doubdan, "to view from the top of
that mountain Arabs encamped by thousands; tents and pavilions of all
colours, green, red, and yellow; with so great a number of horses and
camels, that it seemed like a vast army, or a city besieged."[151]

But we now proceed towards Nazareth, the modern Naszera or Nassera, a
journey of about two hours from the foot of the mountain which we have
just examined. It seems, says one writer, as if fifteen mountains met to
form an enclosure for this delightful spot; they rise round it like the
edge of a shell to guard it from intrusion. It is a rich and beautiful
field in the midst of barren hills. The church stands in a cave supposed
to be the place where the Blessed Virgin received the joyful message of
the angel, recorded in the first chapter of St. Luke's Gospel. It
resembles the figure of a cross. That part of it which stands for the tree
of the cross is fourteen paces long and six broad, and runs directly into
the grot, having no other arch over it at top but that of the natural
rock. The transverse part is nine paces in length and four in width, and
is built athwart the mouth of the cave. Just at the section of these
divisions are erected two granite pillars, two feet in diameter, and about
three feet distant from each other. They are supposed by the faithful to
stand on the very places where the angel and the Blessed Virgin
respectively stood at the time of the Annunciation.[152]

When Dr. Clarke visited this sanctuary, the friars pointed out the kitchen
and the fireplace of the Virgin Mary; and as all consecrated places in the
Holy Land contain some supposed miracle for exhibition, the monks, he
informs us, have taken care not to be altogether deficient in supernatural
rarities. Accordingly, the first things they show to strangers who descend
into the cave are two stone pillars in the front of it; one of which,
separated from its base, is said to sustain its capital and a part of its
shaft miraculously in the air. The fact is, that the capital and a piece
of the shaft of a pillar of gray granite have been fastened to the roof of
the grotto; and "so clumsily is the rest of the _hocus pocus_ contrived,
that what is shown for the lower fragment of the same pillar resting upon
the earth is not of the same substance, but of Cipolino marble."[153]

A variety of stories are circulated about the fracture of this miraculous
pillar. The more ancient travellers were told that it was broken by a
pasha in search of hidden treasure, who was struck with blindness for his
impiety; at present it is said that it separated into two parts, in the
manner in which it still appears, when the angel announced to Mary the
glad tidings with which he was commissioned. Maundrell was not less
observant than the author just quoted, although he does not so openly
expose the deception. "It touches the roof above, and is probably hanged
upon that; unless you had rather take the friars' account of it, namely,
that it is supported by a miracle."

Pococke has proved that the tradition concerning the dwelling-place of the
parents of Jesus Christ existed at a very early period; because the church
built over it is mentioned by writers of the seventh century. Nor is there
in the circumstance that their abode was fixed in a grotto or natural
cave, any thing repugnant to the notions usually entertained either of the
ancient customs of the country or of the class of society to which Joseph
and his espoused wife belonged. But when we are called upon to surrender
our belief to the legends invented by men whose ignorance is the best
apology we can urge for their superstition, a certain degree of disgust
and indignation is perfectly justifiable.

In such a case we are disposed to question the good effects ascribed by
some authors to the pious zeal of the Empress Helena, who, although she
did not in fact erect one-half of the buildings ascribed to her
munificence, most undoubtedly laboured, by her architectural designs, to
obliterate every trace of those simple scenes which might have been
regarded with reasonable veneration in all ages of the church. Dr. Clarke,
in a fit of spleen with which we cannot altogether refuse to sympathize,
remarks, that had the Sea of Tiberias been capable of annihilation by her
means, it would have been dried up, paved, covered with churches and
altars, or converted into monasteries and markets of indulgences, until
every feature of the original had disappeared; and all this by way of
rendering it more particularly holy.[154]

Of the original edifice, said to have been erected by the mother of
Constantine, some remains may still be observed in the form of subverted
columns, which, with the fragments of their capitals and bases, lie near
the modern building. The present church and convent are of a comparatively
recent date, at least so far as the outward structure and internal
decorations are concerned; the former being filled with pictures supplied
by the modern school, all of which are said to be below mediocrity.

Besides the antiquities already mentioned having a reference to the early
history of our Lord, the traveller is conducted to the "workshop of
Joseph," which is near the convent, and was formerly included within its
walls. It is now a small chapel, perfectly modern, and whitewashed like a
Turkish sepulchre. After this is shown the synagogue where the Redeemer is
said to have read the Scriptures to the Jews; and also the precipice from
which the monks aver he leaped down to escape the rage of his townsmen,
who were offended at his application of the sacred text "And all they in
the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and
rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the
hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.
But he, passing through the midst of them, went his way."[155]

The Mount of Precipitation, as it is now called, is, according to Mr.
Buckingham, about two miles distant from Nazareth; is almost inaccessible,
from the steep and rocky nature of the road; and is decidedly not upon the
hill where the town could ever have been built. Dr. Clarke, on the other
hand, maintains that the words of the evangelist are most explicit, and
prove the situation of the ancient city to have been precisely that which
is now occupied by the modern town. In a recess there is an altar hewn out
of the rock, said to be the very spot where Christ dined with his
disciples. Close by are two large cisterns for preserving rain-water, and
several portions of buildings, all described as the remains of a religious
establishment founded by the pious and indefatigable Helena. Immediately
over this scene, and on the edge of a precipice about thirty feet in
height, are two flat stones set up on their edges. In the centre, and
scattered over different parts of one of them, are several round marks
like the deep imprint of fingers on wax; and it is insisted that these are
the impression of our Saviour's hand when he clung to the stone, and
thereby escaped being thrown headlong down.[156]

One celebrated relic still remains to be noticed, which, although it is
not alluded to in the New Testament, is regularly authenticated by the
pope; who, besides, grants a plenary indulgence to every pilgrim visiting
the place where it is exhibited. This is nothing more than a large stone,
on which it is affirmed that Christ did eat with his disciples both before
and after his resurrection from the dead. A chapel has been built over it,
on the walls of which are several copies of a printed certificate, stating
the grounds of its claim to veneration. Dr. Clarke transcribed this
curious document, which we give in a note below, accompanied with a
translation for the use of such readers as have not formed an acquaintance
with the Latin tongue.[157]

There is not an object in all Nazareth so much the resort of
pilgrims,--Greeks, Catholics, Arabs, and even Turks,--as this stone: the
former classes on account of the seven years' indulgence granted to those
who visit it; the two latter, because they believe some virtue must reside
in a slab before which all comers are so eager to prostrate themselves.

In a valley near the town is a fountain which bears the name of the
Virgin, and where the women are seen passing to and fro with pitchers on
their heads, as in the days of old. It is justly remarked, that, if there
be a spot throughout the Holy Land which was more particularly honoured by
the presence of Mary, we may consider this to be the place; because the
situation of a copious spring is not liable to change, and because the
custom of repairing thither to draw water has been continued among the
female inhabitants of Nazareth from the earliest period of its history.

As another memorial of primitive times, we may mention that it is still
common in Nazareth to see "two women grinding at the mill;" illustrating
the remarkable saying of our Lord in reference to the destruction of
Jerusalem. The two females, seated on the ground opposite to each other,
hold between them two round flat stones, such as are seen in Lapland, and
which in Scotland are usually called querns. In the centre of the upper
stone is a cavity for pouring in the corn; and by the side of this an
upright wooden handle for moving it. To begin the operation, one of the
women with her right hand pushes this handle to her companion, who in her
turn sends it back to the first,--thus communicating a rotatory and very
rapid motion to the upper stone; their left hands being all the while
employed in supplying fresh corn, as fast as the bran and flour escape
from the sides of the machine.[158]

It is not without pleasure that the traveller contemplates these unaltered
tokens of the simple life which prevailed in Palestine at the time when
our Saviour abode in the house of Mary his mother; and more especially, as
he cannot fail to contrast them with the pernicious mummery which
continues to disgrace the more artificial monuments of Christian
antiquity. From the extravagances chargeable upon the priesthood at all
the holy places in Canaan, there has resulted this most melancholy fact,
that devout but weak men, unable to distinguish between monkish fraud and
simple truth, have considered the whole series of topographical evidence
as one tissue of imposture, and have left the Holy Land worse Christians
than when they entered it. Credulity and skepticism are extremes too often
found to approximate; and the man, accordingly, who suddenly relinquishes
the one, is almost sure to adopt the other.

Burckhardt remarks that the church of Nazareth, next to the one over the
Holy Sepulchre, is the finest in Syria, and possesses two tolerably good
organs. Within the walls of the convent are several gardens and a small
burying-ground; the building is very strong, and serves occasionally as a
fortress to all the Christians in the town. There are eleven friars on the
establishment, the yearly expenses of which, amounting to about 900l., are
defrayed by the rent of a few houses and the produce of a small portion of
land, the property of the good fathers.

Before quitting this interesting place,--the scene where our Lord passed
the days of his childhood and youth,--we may observe, that there is a
great variation in the accounts given by different travellers as to the
number of its inhabitants. Dr. Richardson restricts it to six or seven
hundred; Mr. Buckingham raises it to two thousand; while others assert
that it does not fall short of half as many more. There are five hundred
Turks, and the remainder are Christians,--the later described as a civil
and very industrious class of people.

At about an hour and a half towards the north-east, situated on the slope
of a hill, stands Kefer Kenna, or Cana of Galilee, the village where the
Redeemer performed his first miracle. Here, in a small church belonging to
the Greek communion, is shown an old stone pot made of the common rock of
the country, and which is said to be one of the original vessels that
contained the water afterward converted into wine. It is worthy of note,
says Dr. Clarke, that in walking among the ruins of Cana one sees large
massy pots of stone answering to the description given by the evangelist;
not preserved nor exhibited as relics, but lying about disregarded by the
present inhabitants, as antiquities with the original use of which they
are altogether unacquainted. From their appearance, and the number of
them, it is quite evident that the practice of keeping water in large
stone pots, each holding from eighteen to twenty-seven gallons, was once
common in the country.

The remains of the house in which the marriage was celebrated are likewise
pointed out to the traveller, who, at the present day, is permitted to
examine curiosities with greater deliberation than was allowed to honest
Doubdan.[159] This pious confessor, whose zeal prompted him to leave
nothing unexplored, found an old church in the village, ascribed as usual
to the inexhaustible beneficence of St. Helena; but his attention was more
pleasantly engaged in tracing the course of the stream which issues from
the sacred fountain whence the water was drawn for the marriage-feast.
There is still a limpid spring near the village; which affords to the
inhabitants their daily supply of a delicious beverage. Pilgrims repair to
it moved by feelings of piety, or, as Doubdan expresses it, to satisfy at
once their devotion and their thirst. A few olive-trees being near the
spot, travellers alight, spread their carpets, and having filled their
pipes, generally smoke tobacco and take some coffee; always preferring
repose in these places to any accommodations which can be obtained in the
village. Such has been the custom of the country from time immemorial,
extending, not only to the wayfaring man, but also to the shepherds on the
surrounding hills, and to the companies of merchantmen whose trade carries
them through the neighbouring deserts.[160]

As we must now leave the interior of Palestine, and return to the shore of
the Mediterranean, we cannot do more at this advanced stage of our
progress than take a distant view of the landscape which stretches from
the lake of Tiberias to the sources of the Jordan. The mountains that
terminate the prospect are extremely magnificent, some of them being
covered with perpetual snow. The intervening country, too, is in many
parts uncommonly fine, presenting luxuriant crops, thriving villages, and
other tokens of security and comfort. The Jordan issues from Lake Hoole,
or Julias, which in its turn is fed by so many streams, that it becomes
very difficult to determine the true fountain of the sacred river.

The only town of consequence between the ruins of Capernaum and the alpine
range of Hermon and Djibbel el Sheik is Saphet, already mentioned, being
one of the four cities consecrated by the religious veneration of the
Hebrews. According to Burckhardt, it stands upon several low hills that
divide it into quarters, the largest of which is occupied by Jews. The
whole may contain six hundred houses, of which one hundred and fifty
belong to the people just named, and nearly as many to the Christians. The
summit of the principal eminence is crowned with an ancient castle, part
of which is regarded by the descendants of Israel as being contemporary
with their earliest kings.

Saphet is still a sort of university for the education of the Jewish
rabbis, of whom there are usually twenty of thirty resident, collected
from different countries of Europe, Africa, and Asia. They have no fewer
than seven synagogues. Their attachment to this place arises from various
motives, and especially from the traditionary belief that the Messias is
to reign here forty years before he assumes the government at Jerusalem.
To the north of the hill on which the castle stands there are several
wells, which, it is said, were dug by the patriarch Isaac, and became the
cause of contention between his herdsmen and those of Gerar; but, says
Pococke, they have much mistaken the place, the Valley of Gerar being at a
great distance on the other side of Jerusalem. This town, which is only
mentioned in the book of Tobit as belonging to the tribe of Naphtali,
became famous during the Crusades; it was occupied also by a detachment of
French troops during the invasion of the country by Bonaparte.

It is worthy of notice, that when the celebrated chief now named retreated
from before Acre, the tyrant Djezzar Pasha, to avenge himself on the
Franks, inflicted a severe punishment on the Jewish and Christian
inhabitants of Saphet. It is said that he had resolved to massacre all the
believers in Moses and Jesus Christ who might be found in any part of his
dominions, and had actually sent orders to Nazareth and Jerusalem to
accomplish his barbarous design. But Sir Sidney Smith, on being apprised
of his intention, conveyed to him the assurance, that if a single
Christian head should fall, he would bombard Acre, and set it on fire. The
interposition of the British Admiral is still remembered with heartfelt
gratitude by all the inhabitants, who looked upon him as their deliverer.
"His word," says Burckhardt, "I have often heard both Turks and Christians
exclaim, was like God's word,--it never failed."

It is to no purpose that we endeavour to ascertain the position of Dan,
the extreme point of the ancient Hebrew territory. Its proximity to the
fountains of Jordan might be supposed to prove a sufficient guide to the
geographer in his local researches; but, as has been already mentioned,
the rivulets which contribute to form the main stream of this celebrated
river are so numerous, and apparently so equally entitled to the honour of
being accounted the principal source, that the precise situation of the
temple where Jeroboam set up one of his golden calves is still open to

The road from Nazareth to Acre proceeds for some time ever a barren, rocky
tract of country, which Hasselquist informs us is a continuation of a
species of territory peculiar to the same meridian, and stretching through
several parallels of latitude. At length the traveller reaches Sephouri,
or Sepphoris, the Zippor of the Hebrews, and the Diocesarea of the Romans,
once the chief town and bulwark of Galilee. The remains of its
fortifications exhibit one of the works of Herod, who, after its
destruction by Varus, not only rebuilt and fortified it, but made it the
principal city of his tetrarchy. Its inhabitants often revolted against
the Romans, relying, on the advantages for defence supplied by its natural
position. It is mentioned in the Talmud as the seat of a Jewish
university, and was long famous for the learning of its rabbis. Here also
was held one of the five sanhedrims authorized by the spiritual governors
of Palestine; the others being established at Jerusalem, Jericho, Gadara,
and Amathus. But its chief celebrity is connected with the tradition, that
it was the residence of Joachim and Anna, the parents of the Virgin Mary.
The house of St. Anne, observes Dr. Clarke, is the "commencement of that
superstitious trumpery which for a long time has constituted the chief
object of devotion and of pilgrimage in the Holy Land." No sooner was the
spot discovered where the pious couple had lived than Constantine issued
instructions to build upon it a magnificent church, the remains of which
have been minutely described by the enterprising traveller to whom we have
just alluded.

"We are conducted to the ruins of a stately Gothic edifice, which seems to
have been one of the finest structures in the Holy Land. Here we entered
beneath lofty massive arches of stone. The roof of the building was of the
same materials. The arches are placed at the intersection of a Greek
cross, and originally supported a dome or a tower; their appearance is
highly picturesque, and they exhibit the grandeur of a noble style of
architecture. Broken columns of granite and marble lie scattered among the
walls, and these prove how richly it was decorated. We measured the
capital of a pillar of the order commonly called Tuscan, which we found
lying against one of granite. The top of this formed a square of, three
feet. One aisle of this building is still entire; at the eastern extremity
a small temporary altar had been recently constructed by the piety of
pilgrims; it consisted of loose materials, and was of very modern date.
Some fragments of the original decorations of the church had been gathered
from the ruins and laid upon this altar; and although they had remained
open to every approach, even the Moslems had respected the votive

The date of this building is incidently mentioned by Epiphanius, who
relates that one Joseph, a native of Tiberias, was authorized by
Constantine to erect a, number of such edifices in the Holy Land, and that
he fulfilled the intention of his sovereign at Tiberias, Capernaum, and
Diocesarea. Reland, upon the authority of Theophanes, places its
destruction in the year 339 of the Christian era, when the town was
demolished on account of the seditious conduct of its inhabitants.

It is perhaps worthy of notice, that Dr. Clarke examined some pictures
which had been recently discovered among these ruins. One appears to
represent the interview between our Saviour and the two disciples at
Emmaus, when in the set of making himself known to them by the breaking of
bread. Another exhibits the Virgin bearing in swaddling-clothes the infant
Jesus; and a third seems to illustrate the same subject in circumstances
somewhat different. They are said to bear a great resemblance to those
used in the churches of Russia, being executed upon a square piece of wood
about half an inch in thickness. As they were not valued highly by the
person into whose hands they had accidently fallen, the Englishman
bestowed a trifle on the ignorant Mohammedan, and "took them into safer

The vale of Zabulon divides the village just described from the ridge of
hills which look down on Acre and the shores of the Great Sea. This
delightful plain appears everywhere covered with spontaneous vegetation,
flourishing in the wildest exuberance. The scenery is described by Dr.
Clarke as not less beautiful than that of the rich valleys upon the south
of the Crimea. It reminded him of the nest parts of Kent and Surrey. The
prickly-pear, which grows to a prodigious size in the Holy Land, sprouts
luxuriantly among the rocks, displaying its gaudy yellow blossoms, and
promising abundance of a delicious cooling fruit. Off either side of the
road the ruins of fortified places exercise the ingenuity of the
antiquarian traveller, who endeavours, through the mist of tradition and
the perplexing obscurity of modern names, to identify towns which make a
figure in Jewish and Roman history. All remains of the strong city of
Zabulon, called by Josephus the "city of men," have disappeared; and its
"admirable beauty," rivalling that of Tyre, Sidon, and Berytus, is now
sought for in vain among Arab huts and scattered stones.

The plain, which skirts the Mediterranean from Jaffa to Cape Blanco,
presents many interesting memorials of Hebrew antiquity and of European
warfare. Every town along the coast has been the scene of contention
between the armies of Christendom and those of Islamism; whence arises the
motive which has determined us to incorporate the history of these cities
with the narrative of the exploits whereon their fortunes have chiefly
depended. Suffice it to mention as we go along, that the vicinity of Acre
invites the attention of the naturalist, on account of certain facts
recorded by Pliny, and repeated by subsequent historians. It is said by
this writer, that it was at the mouth of the river Belus the art of making
glass was first discovered. A party of sailors, who had occasion to visit
the shore in that neighbourhood, propped up the kettle in which they were
about to cook their provisions with sand and pieces of nitre; when to
their surprise they found produced by the action of the fire on these
ingredients, a new substance, which has added immensely to the comforts of
life and to the progress of science. The sand of this remarkable stream
confirmed for ages to supply, not only the manufactories of Sidon, but all
other places, with materials for that beautiful production. Vessels from
Italy were employed to remove it for the glass-houses of Venice and Genoa
so late as the middle of the seventeenth century.

There is another circumstance connected with the same river, which, in the
mythological writings of antiquity, makes a still greater figure than the
discovery just described. Lucian relates that the Belus, at certain
seasons of the year, especially about the feast of Adonis, is of a bloody
colour,--a fact which the heathens looked upon as proceeding from a kind
of sympathy for the death of this favourite of Venus, who was killed by a
wild boar in the mountains whence the stream takes its rise. "Something
like this," says Maundrell, "we saw actually come to pass; for the water
was stained to a surprising redness, and, as we had observed in
travelling, had discoloured the sea a great way into a reddish hue,
occasioned doubtless by a sort of minium, or red earth, washed into the
river by the violence of the rain, and not by any stain from Adonis's

The excellence of Carmel, which here rises into view, has in a great
measure passed away. The curse denounced by Amos has fallen upon it,--"The
top of Carmel shall wither;"--for it is now chiefly remarkable as a mass
of barren and desolate rocks. Its sides are indeed graced by some native
cedars, and even the brambles are still intermingled with wild vines and
olives, denoting its ancient fertility, or more careful cultivation; but
there are no longer any rich pastures to render it the "habitation of
shepherds," or to recall to the fancy the beauty of Carmel and of Sharon,
and to justify the comparison of it to the glory of Libanus. It owes to
its name and to its prominent situation on the coast, as a sentinel of the
Holy Land, all the interest which can now be claimed for the mountain on
which Elias vindicated the worship of Jehovah, and where thousands of holy
Christians have spent their lives in meditation and prayer.

The monastery which stands on the summit of the hill, near the spot were
the prophet offered up his sacrifice, was long the principal residence of
the Carmelite friars. It appears never to have been a fine building, and
is now entirely abandoned. During the campaign of the French in Syria, it
was made an hospital for their sick, for which it was well adapted by its
healthy and retired situation. It has been since ravaged by the Turks, who
have stripped its shrines and destroyed its roof; though there still
remains, for the solace of devout visiters, a small stone altar in a
grotto dedicated to Saint Elias, over which is a coarse painting
representing the holy man leaning on a wheel, with fire and other
instruments of sacrifice at his side.[164]


_The History of Palestine from the Fall of Jerusalem to
the Present Time_.

State of Judea after the Fall of Jerusalem; Revolt under Trajan; Barcochab;
Adrian repairs Jerusalem; Schools at Babylon and Tiberias; The Attempt
of Julian to rebuild the Temple; Invasion of Chosroes; Sack of Jerusalem;
Rise of Islamism; Wars of the Califs; First Crusade; Jerusalem delivered;
Policy of Crusades; Victory at Ascalon; Baldwin King; Second Crusade;
Saladin; His Success at Tiberias; He recovers Jerusalem; The Third
Crusade; Richard Coeur de Lion; Siege and Capture of Acre; Plans of
Richard; His Return to Europe; Death of Saladin; Fourth Crusade; Battle of
Jaffa; Fifth Crusade; Fall of Constantinople; Sixth Crusade; Damietta
taken; Reverses; Frederick the Second made King of Jerusalem; Seventh
Crusade; Christians admitted into the Holy City; Inroad of Karismians;
Eighth Crusade under Louis IX.; He takes Damietta; His Losses and Return
to Europe; Ninth Crusade; Louis IX. and Edward I.; Death of Louis;
Successes of Edward; Treaty with Sultan; Final Discomfiture of the Franks
in Palestine, and Loss of Acre; State of Palestine under the Turks;
Increased Toleration; Bonaparte invades Syria; Siege of Acre and Defeat
of French; Actual State of the Holy Land; Number, Condition, and Character
of the Jews.

The destruction of Jerusalem, though it put an end to the polity of the
Hebrew nation as an independent people, did not entirely disperse the
remains of their miserable tribes, nor denude the Holy Land of its proper
inhabitants. The number of the slain was indeed immense, and the multitude
of captives carried away by Titus glutted the slave-markets of the Roman
empire; but it is true, nevertheless, that many fair portions of Palestine
were uninjured by the war, and continued to enjoy an enviable degree of
prosperity under the government of their conquerors. The towns on the
coast generally submitted to the legions without incurring the chance of a
battle or the horrors of a siege; while the provinces beyond the Jordan,
which formed the kingdom of Agrippa, maintained their allegiance to Rome
throughout the whole period of the insurrection elsewhere so fatal, and
especially to the inheritance of Judah and of Benjamin.

It has been already suggested that soon after the Roman army was
withdrawn, many of the Jewish families, Christians as well as followers
of the Mosaical Law, returned to their sacred capital, and sought a
precarious dwelling among its ruins. To prevent the rebuilding of the
city, Vespasian found it necessary to establish on Mount Zion a garrison
of eight hundred men. The same emperor, it is related, commanded strict
search to be made for all who claimed descent from the house of David, in
order to cut off, if possible, all hope of the restoration of that royal
race, and more especially of the advent of the Messiah, the confidence in
whose speedy coming still burned with feverish excitement in the heart of
every faithful Israelite. A similar jealousy, which dictated a similar
inquisition, was continued in the subsequent reign,--a fact strongly
illustrative of the spirit which prevailed at that period among the
descendants of Abraham, and explanatory also of their successive revolts
against the Roman power.

Under the mild sway of Trajan, the Jews in Egypt, Cyprus, and even in
Mesopotamia, flew to arms, to avenge the insults to which they had been
subjected, or to realize the hopes that they have never ceased to
cherish. After a war remarkable for the waste of blood with which it was
accompanied, the unhappy insurgents were everywhere suppressed; having
lost, according to their own confession, more than half a million of men
in the field of battle, or the sack of towns. The skill and fortune of
Adrian, who soon afterward occupied the imperial throne, were displayed in
the island of Cyprus, from which the Jews were expelled with tremendous
slaughter, and prohibited from ever again touching its shores.

To check the mutinous disposition, or to weaken the influence of the
vanquished tribes, an edict was promulgated by their Roman masters,
forbidding circumcision, the reading of the Law, and the observance of the
weekly Sabbath. Still further to defeat their favourite schemes, and to
blast all hopes of a restoration to civil power in Jerusalem under their
Messiah, it was resolved by the government at Rome to repair to a certain
extent the city of the Jews, and to establish in it a regular colony of
Greeks and Latins. At this crisis appeared the notorious Barcochab, whose
name, denoting the "son of a star," made him be instantly hailed by a
large majority of the nation as that predicted light which was to arise
out of Jacob in the latter days. Recommended by Akiba, one of the most
popular of the Rabbim, to the confidence of Israel, this impostor soon saw
himself at the head of a powerful army; amounting, say the Jewish
annalists, to more than two hundred thousand men. In the absence of the
legions now called to other parts of the East, he found little difficulty
in taking possession of Jerusalem; and before a competent force, under the
renowned Julius Severus, could arrive in Palestine, the false Messias had
seized fifty of the strongest castles, and a great number of open towns.

The details of the sanguinary campaigns which followed are given by the
vanquished Jews with more minuteness than probability. Severus, who had
learned all the arts of desultory warfare when employed against the
barbarians of Britain, used a similar policy on the banks of the Jordan;
choosing to cut off the supplies of the enemy, and attack their posts with
overwhelming numbers, rather than encounter their furious fanaticism in a
general engagement. Bither, a strong city, and defended by Barcochab in
person, was the last to yield to the Romans. At length it was taken by
storm, at the expense of much human life on either side; but as the leader
of the rebellion was among the slain, the victors did not consider their
success too dearly bought, as with the star whose light was extinguished
in the carnage of Bither the hope of Israel fell to the earth. Dio Cassius
relates, that during this war no fewer than 580,000 fell by the sword,
besides those who perished by famine and disease. The whole of Judea was
converted into a desert,--wolves and hyenas howled in the streets of the
desolate cities,--and all the villages were consumed with fire.

It was after these events that Adrian, to annihilate for ever all hopes
of the restoration of the Jewish kingdom, accomplished his plan of
founding a new city on the waste places of Jerusalem, to be peopled by
a colony of foreigners. This town, as we have elsewhere observed, was
called AElia Capitolina; the former epithet alluding to AElius, the
praenomen of the emperor,--the latter denoting that it was dedicated
to Jupiter Capitolinus, the tutelar deity of Rome. An edict was issued,
interdicting every Jew from entering the new city on pain of death, or
even approaching so near it as to be able to contemplate its towers and
the venerable heights on which it stood. The more effectually to keep
them away, the image of a cow was placed over the gate which leads to
Bethlehem. But the more peaceful Christians, meanwhile, were permitted
to establish themselves within the walls; and AElia, it is well known,
soon became the seat of a flourishing church and of a bishopric.[165]

From this period the history of the Holy Land is less connected with the
Jews than with the policy of the different governments by which their
country has been occupied. More attached to their ancient faith than when
it was established at Jerusalem, we find them, both in the East and West,
labouring with the most indefatigable zeal to revive its principles and
extend its authority. Hence their celebrated schools at Babylon and
Tiberias,--the source of all legislation, and the seat of judgment in all
cases of doubtful opinion. Hence, too, those mixed titles, so long
recognised in their tribes, the Patriarch of Tiberias and the Prince of
the Captivity,--appointments which, during a long period, constituted a
bond of union, partly spiritual and partly political, among all the
descendants of Jacob. The numerous remains of that people, though still
excluded from the precincts of Jerusalem, were nevertheless permitted to
form and to maintain considerable establishments both in Italy and in the
provinces; to acquire the freedom of Rome; to enjoy municipal honours;
and to obtain, at the same time, an exemption from the burdensome and
expensive offices of society. The moderation or the contempt of the
Romans gave a legal sanction to the form of ecclesiastical police, which
was instituted by the vanquished sect. The Patriarch was empowered to
appoint his subordinate ministers, to exercise a domestic jurisdiction,
and to receive from his brethren an annual contribution. New synagogues
were frequently erected in the principal cities of the empire; and the
Sabbaths, the fasts, and the festivals, which were either commanded by
the Mosaic Law or enjoined by the traditions of the Rabbim, were
celebrated in the most solemn and public manner. They were, in like
manner, restored to the privilege of circumcising their children, on the
easy condition that they should never confer on any foreign proselyte the
distinguishing mark of the Hebrew race. Such gentle treatment insensibly
assuaged the stern temper of the Jews. Awakened from their dream of
prophecy and conquest, they assumed the behaviour of peaceable and
industrious subjects. Their hatred of mankind, instead of flaming out in
acts of blood and violence, evaporated in less dangerous gratifications.
They embraced every opportunity of overreaching the idolaters in trade;
and they pronounced secret and ambiguous imprecations against the haughty
kingdom of Edom, the name under which they were pleased to denounce the
Roman empire.[166]

The glories which were shed upon Palestine by the munificent zeal of
Constantine and his mother have already been repeatedly mentioned. The
splendid buildings which arose in every part of the Holy Land announced
the triumph of the new faith in the country where it had its origin;
exciting at once the pride of the Christian, and the jealousy, resentment,
and despair of the Jew. The government of Constantius was not more
favourable to the children of Israel; nor was it till the accession of
Julian that they were encouraged to look for revenge upon their enemies,
if not for protection to their despised countrymen. The edict to rebuild
the Temple on Mount Moriah, and to establish once more at Jerusalem the
worship enjoined by Moses, called forth their utmost exertions in behalf
of a prince who at least abandoned a rival religion, destined, as they
apprehended, to supplant their own more ancient ritual.

The issue of this attempt to reinstate the ceremonies of the Jewish Law in
the capital of Palestine is known to every reader. The workmen employed in
digging the foundation of the new Temple were terrified by flames of fire
darting forth from the ground, and accompanied with the most frightful
explosions. No inducement could prevail on them to persevere in labours
which appeared to excite the anger of Heaven. The enterprise was
relinquished, as at once hopeless and impious; and there is no doubt that,
whatever additions may have been made to the circumstances by ignorance
and a too easy belief, the views of Julian were frustrated by the
occurrence of some very extraordinary event, which still finds a place
even in Roman history. The skeptic may smile when he reads in the pages of
a Christian Father, that flakes of fire which assumed the form of a cross
settled on the dresses of the artisans and spectators; that a horseman was
seen careering amid the flames; and that, when the affrighted labourers
fled to a neighbouring church, its doors, fastened by some preternatural
force within, refused to admit them into the sacred building. In such
details the imagination is consulted more than the reason; and it cannot
be denied that certain authors, who wrote long after the reign of Julian;
have admitted traditionary anecdotes into the narrative of a grave event.
It is deserving of notice, however, that the mark of the cross, said to
have been impressed upon the bystanders, is not the most incredible of the
circumstances recorded. Many instances have been known of persons touched
by the electric fluid, whose bodies exhibited similar traces of its
operation,--straight lines cutting one another at right angles--and hence
that part of the description which appears the least entitled to belief
will be found to be strictly within the limits of nature.[167]

The policy of the emperors continued to depress the Jews in Palestine,
while it granted to them the enjoyment of considerable privileges in all
the other provinces where their presence and peculiar views were less
hazardous to the public peace. During the same period, the Christian
church possessed the countenance of the civil power, and gradually
extended its doctrines into Armenia, as well as into the more important
region of the Lower Mesopotamia. It was not till the beginning of the
seventh century that the course of events was materially disturbed by an
invasion of the Persians, under Chosroes, who had resolved to humble the
government of Constantinople, and to check its pretensions in the East.
The part of the army appointed to serve against Palestine was entrusted
to Carnsia, an experienced general, who invited the Jews to join his
standard. This people, ever ready to aid the cause of revolt, assembled,
it is said, to the number of 24,000 men, and made preparations for an
attack on Jerusalem. A sanguinary warfare had ensued, even before the
arrival of their allies from beyond the Euphrates; and both sides,
accordingly, were exasperated to the highest degree of fury, and
importuning Heaven to hasten the moment of revenge. The Christians within
the walls massacred their enemies in cold blood, while the assailants
without carried destruction to every point which their arms could reach.
At length, the advance of the Persians secured to the Jews the hour of
triumph and retaliation, when they fully quenched their thirst for
vengeance in the blood of the Nazarenes. The victors are said to have
sold the miserable captives for money. But the rage of the Jews was
stronger than their avarice; for not only did they not scruple to
sacrifice their treasures in the purchase of these devoted bondsmen at a
lavish price, but they put to death without remorse all whom they bought.
It was rumoured that no fewer than 90,000 Christians perished. Every
church was demolished, including that of the Holy Sepulchre,--the
greatest object of Jewish hatred. The stately building of Helena and
Constantine was abandoned to the flames, and the devout offerings of
three hundred years were rifled in one sacrilegious day.

But the arms of Persia did not long support the persecuting spirit of the
Jews. The Emperor Heraclius, who had spent some inglorious years on the
throne, was alarmed into activity by the progress of the enemy, who had
threatened even the walls of Constantinople itself. The discipline of
ancient Rome, which was not yet quite extinct among the legionary
soldiers, maintained its wonted superiority over the less martial troops
of Chosroes, and recovered in the course of a few campaigns all the
provinces that the invaders had overrun. Heraclius visited Jerusalem as a
pilgrim, when the wood of the true cross, which, it was rumoured, had
been carried away to Persia, was reinstated with due solemnity. Several
Christian churches, too, were restored to their former magnificence; and
the law of Adrian was again put in force, which prohibited the Jews from
approaching within three miles of the holy city.[168]

Palestine continued to acknowledge the power of the emperor until the
rise of Islamism changed the face of Western Asia. The armies of the
califs, which wrested from Persia the dominion of the surrounding
nations, conquered in succession the provinces of Arabia, Syria, and
Egypt, and at length planted the crescent on the walls of Jerusalem. The
victories of Omar in 636 decided the fate of the venerable city, and laid
the foundations of a mosque on the sacred hill where the Temple of
Solomon had stood. This conqueror was assassinated at Jerusalem in 643;
after which, the establishment of several califates in Arabia and Syria,
the fall of the Ommiades, and the elevation of the Abassides involved
Judea in trouble for more than two hundred years. In 868, Achmet, a Turk,
who from being governor had made himself sovereign of Egypt, conquered
the capital of Palestine; but his son having been defeated by the califs
of Bagdad; the holy city again returned under their dominion in the year
905 of our era. Mohammed Ikschid, another Turk, about thirty years after,
having in his turn seized the throne of the Pharaohs, carried his arms
into Palestine, and reduced the capital. The Fatimites, again, issuing
from the sands of Cyrene, expelled the Ikschidites from Egypt in 968, and
conquered several towns in Judea. Ortok, towards the end of the tenth
century, made himself master of the holy city, whence his children were
for a time driven out by Mostali, Calif of Egypt. In 1076, Meleschah, the
third of the Turkish race, took Jerusalem, and ravaged the whole country.
The Ortokides, who, as we have just related, were dispossessed by
Mostali, returned thither, and maintained themselves in it against
Redouan, Prince of Aleppo. They were expelled once more by the Fatimites,
who were masters of the place when the crusaders first appeared on the
confines of Syria.

Several generations passed away, during which the affairs of the Holy Land
created no interest in Europe, and when Christians and Jews, who could

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