The trip to the quarries ended my sight-seeing for the week. The next morning I went to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and witnessed a part of the service of the Greek Catholics. At a later hour I went around to the mission conducted by Bro. Joseph, and, with the little congregation there assembled, broke bread in memory of Him who in this city, almost two thousand years ago, gave his life for the sins of the world, after having instituted this supper, a monumental institution, representing to our minds the cost of the world's redemption. In the afternoon I attended the preaching service in Mr. Thompson's tabernacle, and visited the Abyssinian church, near Mr. Smith's house. This Abyssinian house is circular, and has a small, round room in the center, around which the congregation stands and worships, leaning on their staves, for the place is void of seats. At night I preached in the tabernacle on the question: "What must I do to be saved?" Melki, the native evangelist, translated for me as I went along, and the congregation paid good attention and seemed pleased to have heard me. I know I am pleased to have had opportunity to "preach the word" in the city from whence it was first published to the world.
One of the first sights beheld when I started out on Monday morning was a foundation, laid at the expense of a woman who intended to build a house for the "hundred and forty-four thousand." It represents one of the many peculiar religious ideas that find expression in and around Jerusalem. We went on to the railway station, where I saw a young man, a Jew, leave for that far-off land called America. Next the Leper Hospital was visited. This well-kept institution is in the German colony, and had several patients of both sexes. A lady, who spoke some English, kindly showed me through the hospital, and explained that the disease is not contagious, but hereditary, and that some lepers refuse to enter the hospital because they are forbidden to marry. The patients were of various ages, and showed the effects of the disease in different stages. In some cases it makes the victim a sad sight to look upon. I remember one of these poor, afflicted creatures, whose face was almost covered with swollen and inflamed spots. Some were blind, and some had lost part or all of their fingers by the disease. One man's nose was partly consumed.
At Bishop Gobat's school we were kindly received, and given a good, refreshing drink. The founder of this school, a member of the English church, was one of the pioneers in Jerusalem mission work, and stood very high in the estimation of the people. His grave is to be seen in the cemetery near the school, where one may also see the supposed site of the ancient city wall. Besides the Leper Hospital, we visited another hospital under German control, where patients may have medical attention and hospital service for the small sum of one mejidi, about eighty cents, for a period, of fifteen days, but higher fees are charged in other departments. We soon reached the English hospital, maintained by the Society for the Promotion of Christianity among the Jews. It is built on a semi-circular plan in such a way that the wards, extending back from the front, admit light from both sides. This institution is free to the Jews, but I understand Mohammedans were not admitted without a fee.
The Syrian Orphanage had about three hundred children in it, who were being instructed in books and in manual labor. Those who can see are taught to work in wood, to make a kind of tile used in constructing partitions, and other lines of useful employment. They had some blind children, who were being taught to make baskets and brushes. On the way back to Mr. Smith's I stopped at the Jewish Library, a small two-story building, having the books and papers upstairs. They have a raised map of Palestine, which was interesting to me, after having twice crossed the country from sea to sea.
The last Thursday I was in the city I went with some friends to the Israelite Alliance School, an institution with about a thousand pupils, who receive both an industrial and a literary education. We were conducted through the school by a Syrian gentleman named Solomon Elia, who explained that, while the institution is under French control, English is taught to some extent, as some of the pupils would go to Egypt, where they would need to use this language. The boys are instructed in wood-working, carpentry, copper-working, and other lines of employment. We saw some of the girls making hair nets, and others were engaged in making lace. Both of these products are sent out of Palestine for sale. The institution has received help from some of the Rothschild family, and I have no doubt that it is a great factor for the improvement of those who are reached by it. Jerusalem is well supplied with hospitals and schools. The Greek and Roman Catholic churches, the Church of England, and numerous other religious bodies have a footing here, and are striving to make it stronger. Their schools and hospitals are made use of as missionary agencies, and besides these there is a Turkish hospital and numerous Mohammedan schools.
On Friday I had an opportunity to see a man measuring grain, as is indicated by the Savior's words: "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give into your bosom. For with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" (Luke 6:38). He filled his measure about full, and then shook it down thoroughly. He next filled it up and shook it down until he evidently thought he had all he could get that way, so he commenced to pile it up on top. When he had about as much heaped up as would stay on, he put his hands on the side of the cone opposite himself and gently pulled it toward him. He then piled some more on the far side, and when he had reached the limit in this way, he carefully leveled the top of the cone down a little, and when he could no longer put on more grain, he gently lifted the measure and moved it around to the proper place, where it was quickly dumped. In the evening Mr. Smith and I walked out on Mount Scopus, where Titus had his camp at the time of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, as foretold by our Lord and Master in the twenty-fourth of Matthew.
As we went along, Mr. Smith pointed out the watershed between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. The view from Scopus is very extensive. We could look away to the north to Nebi Samwil, where the Prophet Samuel is supposed by some to have been buried. Ramallah, the seat of a school maintained by the Society of Friends, is pointed out, along with Bireh, Bethel, and Geba. Nob, the home of the priests slain by command of Saul (1 Samuel 22:16), and Anathoth, one of the cities of refuge (Joshua 21:18), are in sight. Swinging on around the circle to the east, the northern end of the Dead Sea is visible, while the Mount of Olives is only a little distance below us. Across the valley of the Kidron lies the Holy City, with her walls constructed at various periods and under various circumstances, her dome-shaped stone roofs, synagogues, mosques, and minarets, being "trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). Here, with this panorama spread out in the evening light, I may say my sight-seeing in the City of the Great King came to an end.
I lacked but a few hours of having been in the city two weeks, when I boarded the train for Jaffa on my way to Egypt. The most of the time I had lodged in the hospitable home of Mr. Smith, where I had a clean and comfortable place to rest my tired body when the shadows of night covered the land. I had received kind treatment, and had seen many things of much interest. I am truly thankful that I have been permitted to make this trip to Jerusalem. Let me so live that when the few fleeting days of this life are over, I may rest with the redeemed. When days and years are no more, let me enjoy, in the NEW JERUSALEM, the blessedness that remains for those that have loved the Lord.
"And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God: and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things have passed away" (Revelation 21:2-4).
SIDE TRIPS FROM JERUSALEM.
Early on Tuesday morning, the eleventh of October, I set out by carriage, with some other tourists, for a trip to Bethlehem, Solomon's Pools, and Hebron. Bethlehem is about five miles south of Jerusalem, and Hebron is a little southwest of the Holy City and twenty miles distant. We started from the Jaffa gate and passed the Sultan's Pool, otherwise known as Lower Gihon, which may be the "lower pool" of Isaiah 22:9. "The entire area of this pool," says one writer, "is about three and a half acres, with an average depth, when clear of deposit, of forty-two and a half feet in the middle from end to end." We drove for two miles, or perhaps more, across the Plain of Rephaim, one of David's battlefields soon after he established himself in Jerusalem. Here he was twice victorious over the Philistines. In the first instance he asked Jehovah: "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Wilt thou deliver them into my hand?" The answer was: "Go up; for I will certainly deliver the Philistines into thy hand." In this battle the invaders were routed and driven from the field. "And they left their images there; and David and his men took them away." But "the Philistines came up yet again, and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim. And when David inquired of Jehovah, he said, Thou shalt not go up: make a circuit behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when thou hearest the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself, for then is Jehovah gone out before thee to smite the hosts of the Philistines." David obeyed the voice of the Lord, and smote his enemies from Geba to Gezer. (2 Samuel 5:17-25.)
On the southern border of the plain stands the Greek convent called Mar Elyas. This is about half way to Bethlehem, and the city of the nativity soon comes into view. Before going much farther the traveler sees a well-built village, named Bet Jala, lying on his right. It is supposed to be the ancient Giloh, mentioned in 2 Samuel 15:12 as the home of Ahithophel, David's counselor, for whom Absalom sent when he conspired against his father. Here the road forks, one branch of it passing Bet Jala and going on to Hebron; the other, bearing off to the left, leads directly to Bethlehem, which we passed, intending to stop there as we returned in the evening. At this place we saw the monument erected to mark the location of Rachel's tomb, a location, like many others, in dispute. When Jacob "journeyed from Bethel and there was still some distance to come to Ephrath," Rachel died at the birth of Benjamin, "and was buried in the way to Ephrath (the same is Bethlehem). * * * And Jacob set up a pillar upon her grave" (Gen. 35:16-20). The spot, which for many centuries was marked by a pyramid of stones, is now occupied by a small stone building with a dome-shaped roof, at the east side of which is a room, open on the north, with a flat roof. For hundreds of years tradition has located the grave at this place, which is indeed near Bethlehem, but in 1 Samuel 10:2 it is mentioned as being "in the border of Benjamin," which has occasioned the belief that the true location is some miles farther north.
Before long we came to Solomon's Pools. We first stopped at a doorway, which looks like it might lead down to a cellar, but in reality the door is at the head of a flight of stairs leading down to what is known as the "sealed fountain" (Song of Solomon 4:12). The door was fastened, and we were not able to descend to the underground chamber, which is forty-one feet long, eleven and a half feet wide, with an arched stone roof, all of which, except the entrance, is below the surface. A large basin cut in the floor collects the water from two springs. After rising a foot in the basin, the water flows out into a channel more than six hundred feet long leading down to the two upper pools. These great reservoirs, bearing the name of Israel's wisest monarch, are still in a good state of preservation, having been repaired in modern times. The first one is three hundred and eighty feet long, two hundred and twenty-nine feet wide at one end, two hundred and thirty feet wide at the other, and twenty-five feet deep. The second pool is four hundred and twenty-three feet long, one hundred and sixty feet wide at the upper end, two hundred and fifty feet wide at the lower end, and thirty-nine feet deep at that end. The third pool is the largest of all, having a length of five hundred and eighty-two feet. The upper end is one hundred and forty-eight feet wide, the lower end two hundred and seven feet, and the depth at the lower end is fifty feet. The pools are about one hundred and fifty feet apart, and have an aggregate area of six and a quarter acres, with an average depth approaching thirty-eight feet. The upper two received water from the sealed fountain, but the lower one was supplied from an aqueduct leading up from a point more than three miles to the south. The aqueduct from the sealed fountain leads past the pools, and winds around the hills to Bethlehem and on to the Temple Area, in Jerusalem. It is still in use as far as Bethlehem, and could be put in repair and made serviceable for the whole distance. An offer to do this was foolishly rejected by the Moslems in 1870. The only habitation near the pools is an old khan, "intended as a stopping place for caravans and as a station for soldiers to guard the road and the pools." The two upper pools were empty when I saw them, but the third one contained some water and a great number of frogs. As we went on to Hebron we got a drink at "Philip's Well," the place where "the eunuch was baptized," according to a tradition which lacks support by the present appearance of the place.
Towards noon we entered the "valley of Eschol," from whence the spies sent out by Moses carried the great cluster of grapes. (Num. 13:23.) Before entering Hebron we turned aside and went up to Abraham's Oak, a very old tree, but not old enough for Abraham to have enjoyed its shade almost four thousand years ago. The trunk is thirty-two feet in circumference, but the tree is not tall like the American oaks. It is now in a dying condition, and some of the branches are supported by props, while the lower part of the trunk is surrounded by a stone wall, and the space inside is filled with earth. The plot of ground on which the tree stands is surrounded by a high iron fence. A little farther up the hill the Russians have a tower, from which we viewed the country, and then went down in the shade near Abraham's Oak and enjoyed our dinner.
Hebron is a very ancient city, having been built seven and a half years before Zoar in Egypt. (Num. 13:22.) Since 1187 it has been under the control of the Mohammedans, who raise large quantities of grapes, many of which are made into raisins. Articles of glass are made in Hebron, but I saw nothing especially beautiful in this line. The manufacture of goat-skin water-bottles is also carried on. Another line of work which I saw being done is the manufacture of a kind of tile, which looks like a fruit jug without a bottom, and is used in building. Hebron was one of the six cities of refuge (Joshua 20:7), and for seven years and a half it was David's capital of Judah. It is very historic. "Abraham moved his tent, and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built there an altar unto Jehovah." (Gen. 13:18.) When "Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (the same is Hebron), in the land of Canaan, * * * Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her." At this time the worthy progenitor of the Hebrew race "rose up from before his dead, and spoke unto the children of Heth, saying, I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight." The burial place was purchased for "four hundred shekels of silver, current money of the land. * * * And after this Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave in the field of Machpelah before Mamre (the same is Hebron), in the land of Canaan" (Gen. 23:1-20). Years after this, when both Abraham and his son Isaac had passed the way of all the earth and had been laid to rest in this cave, the patriarch Jacob in Egypt gave directions for the entombment of his body in this family burial place. "There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah" (Gen. 49:31), and here, by his own request, Jacob was buried. (Gen. 50:13.) Joshua, the successor of Moses, "utterly destroyed" Hebron (Joshua 10:37), and afterwards gave it to Caleb, to whom it had been promised by Moses forty-five years before. (Joshua 14:6-15.) Here Abner was slain (2 Samuel 3:27), and the murderers of Ishbosheth were put to death. (2 Samuel 4:12.)
The most interesting thing about the town is the "cave of Machpelah," but it is inaccessible to Christians. Between 1167 and 1187 a church was built on the site, now marked by a carefully guarded Mohammedan mosque. It is inclosed by a wall which may have been built by Solomon. We were allowed to go in at the foot of a stairway as far as the seventh step, but might as well have been in the National Capitol at Washington so far as seeing the burial place was concerned. In 1862 the Prince of Wales, now King of England, was admitted. He was accompanied by Dean Stanley, who has described what he saw, but he was permitted neither to examine the monuments nor to descend to the cave below, the real burial chamber. As the body of Jacob was carefully embalmed by the Egyptian method, it is possible that his remains may yet be seen in their long resting place in this Hebron cave. (Gen. 50:1,2.)
Turning back toward Jerusalem, we came to Bethlehem late in the afternoon, and the "field of the shepherds" (Luke 2:8) and the "fields of Boaz" (Ruth 2:4-23) were pointed out. The place of greatest interest is the group of buildings, composed of two churches, Greek and Latin, and an Armenian convent, all built together on the traditional site of the birth of the Lord Jesus. Tradition is here contradicted by authorities partly on the ground that a cave to which entrance is made by a flight of stairs would probably not be used as a stable. This cave is in the Church of St. Mary, said to have been erected in 330 by Constantine. Descending the stairs, we came into the small cavern, which is continually lighted by fifteen silver lamps, the property of the Greeks, Latins, and Armenians, who each have an interest in the place. Beneath an altar, in a semi-circular recess, a silver star has been set in the floor with the Latin inscription: "Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus Natus est." An armed Turkish soldier was doing duty near this "star of Bethlehem" the evening I was there. The well, from which it is said the "three mighty men" drew water for David, was visited. (2 Samuel 23:15.) But the shades of night had settled down upon the little town where our Savior was born, and we again entered our carriages and drove back to Jerusalem, having had a fine day of interesting sight-seeing. On the Wednesday before I left Jerusalem, in the company of Mrs. Bates, I again visited Bethlehem.
Thursday, October thirteenth, was the day we went down to Jericho, the Dead Sea, and the Jordan. The party was made up of the writer, Mr. Ahmed, Mr. Jennings, Mrs. Bates, four school teachers (three ladies and a gentleman) returning from the Philippines, and the guides, Mr. Smith and Ephraim Aboosh. We went in two carriages driven by natives. "A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead" (Luke 10:30). This lonely road is still the scene of occasional robberies, and the Turkish Government permits one of its soldiers to accompany the tourist for a fee, but we did not want to take this escort, as neither of the guides feared any danger. Accordingly we took an early start without notifying the soldiers, and reached Jericho, about twenty miles away, in time to visit Elisha's Fountain before dinner. The road leads out past Bethany, down by the Apostles' Fountain, on past the Khan of the Good Samaritan, and down the mountain to the plain of the Jordan, this section of which is ten miles long and seven miles wide. Before the road reaches the plain, it runs along a deep gorge bearing the name Wady Kelt, the Brook Cherith, where the prophet Elisha was fed by the ravens night and morning till the brook dried up. (1 Kings 17:1-7.) We also saw the remains of an old aqueduct, and of a reservoir which was originally over five hundred feet long and more than four hundred feet wide. Elisha's Fountain is a beautiful spring some distance from the present Jericho. Doubtless it is the very spring whose waters Elisha healed with salt. (2 Kings 2:19-22.) The ground about the Fountain has been altered some in modern times, and there is now a beautiful pool of good, clear water, a delight both to the eye and to the throat of the dusty traveler who has come down from Jerusalem seeing only the brown earth and white, chalky rock, upon which the unveiled sun has been pouring down his heat for hours. The water from the spring now runs a little grist mill a short distance below it.
After dinner, eaten in front of the hotel in Jericho, we drove over to the Dead Sea, a distance of several miles, and soon we were all enjoying a fine bath in the salt water, the women bathing at one place, the men at another. The water contains so much solid matter, nearly three and a third pounds to the gallon, that it is easy to float on the surface with hands, feet and head above the water. One who can swim but little in fresh water will find the buoyancy of the water here so great as to make swimming easy. When one stands erect in it, the body sinks down about as far as the top of the shoulders. Care needs to be taken to keep the water out of the mouth, nose and eyes, as it is so salty that it is very disagreeable to these tender surfaces. Dead Sea water is two and a half pounds heavier than fresh water, and among other things, it contains nearly two pounds of chloride of magnesium, and almost a pound of chloride of sodium, or common salt, to the gallon. Nothing but some very low forms of animal life, unobserved by the ordinary traveler, can live in this sea. The fish that get into it from the Jordan soon die. Those who bathe here usually drive over to the Jordan and bathe again, to remove the salt and other substances that remain on the body after the first bath. The greatest depth of the Dead Sea is a little over thirteen hundred feet. The wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah stood here some place, but authorities disagree as to whether they were at the northern or southern end of the sea. In either case every trace of them has been wiped out by the awful destruction poured on them by the Almighty. (Gen. 18:16 to 19:29)
The Jordan where we saw it, near the mouth, and at the time we saw it, the thirteenth of October, was a quiet and peaceful stream, but the water was somewhat muddy. We entered two little boats and had a short ride on the river whose waters "stood, and rose up in one heap, a great way off," that the children of Israel might cross (Joshua 3:14-17), and beneath whose wave the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was baptized by the great prophet of the Judaean wilderness. (Matt. 3:13-17.) We also got out a little while on the east bank of the stream, the only time I was "beyond Jordan" while in Palestine. After supper, eaten in Jericho, we went around to a Bedouin encampment, where a dance was being executed—a dance different from any that I had ever seen before. One of the dancers, with a sword in hand, stood in the center of the ground they were using, while the others stood in two rows, forming a right angle. They went through with various motions and hand-clapping, accompanied by an indescribable noise at times. Some of the Bedouins were sitting around a small fire at one side, and some of the children were having a little entertainment of their own on another side of the dancing party. We were soon satisfied, and made our way back to the hotel and laid down to rest.
The first Jericho was a walled city about two miles from the present village, perhaps at the spring already mentioned, and was the first city taken in the conquest of the land under Joshua. The Jordan was crossed at Gilgal (Joshua 4:19), where the people were circumcised with knives of flint, and where the Jews made their first encampment west of the river. (Joshua 5:2-10.) "Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel," but by faithful compliance with the word of the Lord the walls fell down. (Joshua 6:1-27.) "And Joshua charged them with an oath at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before Jehovah, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: with the loss of his first-born shall he lay the foundation thereof, and with the loss of his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it." Regardless of this curse, we read that in the days of Ahab, who "did more to provoke Jehovah, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him, * * * did Hiel the Beth-elite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof with the loss of Abiram his first-born, and set up the gates thereof with the loss of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of Jehovah, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun" (1 Kings 16:33,34). "The Jericho * * * which was visited by Jesus occupied a still different site," says Bro. McGarvey. The present Jericho is a small Arab village, poorly built, with a few exceptions, and having nothing beautiful in or around it but the large oleanders that grow in the ground made moist by water from Elisha's Fountain. We had satisfactory accommodations at the hotel, which is one of the few good houses there. Jericho in the time of our Lord was the home of a rich publican named Zaccheus (Luke 19:1-10), and was an important and wealthy city, that had been fortified by Herod the Great, who constructed splendid palaces here, and it was here that "this infamous tyrant died." The original Jericho, the home of Rahab the harlot, was called the "city of palm trees" (Deut. 34:3), but if the modern representative of that ancient city has any of these trees, they are few in number. Across the Jordan eastward are the mountains of Moab, in one of which Moses died after having delivered his valedictory, as recorded in Deuteronomy. (Deut. 34:1-12.) From a lofty peak the Lord showed this great leader and law-giver a panorama of "all the land of Gilead unto Dan. * * * And Jehovah 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 Jehovah died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of Jehovah. And he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day."
Early Wednesday morning we began our toilsome journey back to Jerusalem, having nearly four thousand feet to climb in the twenty miles intervening. We stopped awhile at the Khan of the Good Samaritan, which stands near some old ruins, and may not be far from the place to which the Good Samaritan carried his poor, wounded fellow-man so long ago. Here I bought some lamps that look old enough, but may be quite modern imitations of the kind that were carried in the days of the wise and foolish virgins. A stop was also made at the Apostles' Fountain, near Bethany, where I saw an Arab working bread on his coat, which was spread on the ground. Over by the Damascus gate I one day saw a man feeding his camel on his coat, so these coarse cloth garments are very serviceable indeed. We got back to Jerusalem in time to do a good deal of sight-seeing in the afternoon.
The following Tuesday was occupied with a trip on "donkey-back" to Nebi Samwil, Emmaus, Abu Ghosh, and Ain Kairim. Our party was small this time, being composed of Mr. Jennings, Mr. Smith, the writer, and a "donkey-boy" to care for the three animals we rode, when we dismounted to make observations. He was liberal, and sometimes tried to tell us which way to go. We went out on the north side of the city and came to the extensive burial places called the "Tombs of the Judges." Near by is an ancient wine press cut in the rock near a rock-hewn cistern, which may have been used for storing the wine. En Nebi Samwil is on an elevation a little more than three thousand feet above the sea and about four hundred feet higher than Jerusalem, five miles distant. From the top of the minaret we had a fine view through a field glass, seeing the country for many miles around. This is thought by some to be the Mizpah of the Bible (1 Kings 15:22), and tradition has it that the prophet Samuel was buried here. A little north of Nebi Samwil is the site of ancient Gibeon, where "Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David" (2 Samuel 2:12-17).
We next rode over to El Kubebeh, supposed by some to be the Emmaus of New Testament times, where Jesus went after his resurrection and sat at meat with his disciples without being recognized. (Luke 24:13-25.) The place has little to attract one. A modern building, which I took to be the residence of some wealthy person, occupies a prominent position, and is surrounded by well-kept grounds, inclosed with a wall. The Franciscan monastery is a good sized institution, having on its grounds the remains of a church of the Crusaders' period, over which a new and attractive building has been erected. One section of it has the most beautiful floor of polished marble, laid in patterns, that I have ever seen. It also contains a painting of the Savior and the two disciples.
We went outside of the monastery to eat our noon-day lunch, but before we finished, one of the monks came and called us in to a meal at their table. It was a good meal, for which no charge was made, and I understand it is their custom to give free meals to visitors, for they believe that Jesus here sat at meat with his two disciples. We enjoyed their hospitality, but drank none of the wine that was placed before us.
Our next point was Abu Ghosh, named for an old village sheik who, "with his six brothers and eighty-five descendants, was the terror of the whole country" about a century ago. Our object in visiting the spot was to see the old Crusaders' church, the best preserved one in Palestine. The stone walls are perhaps seven or eight feet thick. The roof is still preserved, and traces of the painting that originally adorned the walls are yet to be seen. A new addition has been erected at one end, and the old church may soon be put in repair.
The last place we visited before returning to Jerusalem was Ain Kairim, a town occupied mainly by the Mohammedans, and said to have been the home of that worthy couple of whom it was written: "They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless" (Luke 1:6). The portion occupied by the Latins and Greeks is very beautifully situated on the side of the mountain. The stone houses, "whited walls," and green cypresses make quite a pretty picture. The Church of St. John, according to tradition, stands on the spot where once dwelt Zacharias and Elizabeth, the parents of John, the great forerunner of Jesus. Night came upon us before we got back to our starting place, and as this was my first day of donkey riding, I was very much fatigued when I finally dismounted in Jerusalem; yet I arose the next morning feeling reasonably well, but not craving another donkey ride over a rough country beneath the hot sun.
On Saturday, the twenty-second of October, I turned away from Jerusalem, having been in and around the place almost two weeks, and went back to Jaffa by rail. After a few miles the railway leads past Bittir, supposed to be the Beth-arabah of Joshua 15:61. It is also of interest from the fact that it played a part in the famous insurrection of Bar Cochba against the Romans. In A.D. 135 it was captured by a Roman force after a siege of three and a half years. Ramleh, a point twelve miles from Jaffa, was once occupied by Napoleon. Lydda, supposed to be the Lod of Ezra 2:33, was passed. Here Peter healed Aeneas, who had been palsied eight years. (Acts 9:32-35.)
Jaffa is the Joppa of the Bible, and has a good deal of interesting history. When "Jonah rose to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of Jehovah," he "went down to Joppa and found a ship going unto Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of Jehovah." (Jonah 1:3.) His unpleasant experience with the great fish is well known. When Solomon was about to build the first temple, Hiram sent a communication to him, saying: "We will cut wood out of Lebanon as much as thou shalt need; and will bring it to thee in floats by sea to Joppa; and thou shalt carry it up to Jerusalem" (2 Chron. 2:16). In the days of Ezra, when Zerubbabel repaired the temple, we read that "they gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and food, and drink, and oil, unto them of Sidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea, unto Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia" (Ezra 3:7). It was the home of "a certain disciple named Tabitha," whom Peter was called from Lydda to raise from the dead. (Acts 9:36-43.) Simon the tanner also lived in Joppa, and it was at his house that Peter had his impressive vision of the sheet let down from heaven prior to his going to Caesarea to speak the word of salvation to Cornelius and his friends. (Acts 10:1-6.)
The city is built on a rocky elevation rising one hundred feet above the sea, which has no harbor here, so that vessels do not stop when the water is too rough for passengers to be carried safely in small boats. Extensive orange groves are cultivated around Jaffa, and lemons are also grown, and I purchased six for a little more than a cent in American money. Sesame, wine, wool, and soap are exported, and the imports are considerable. The train reached the station about the middle of the day, and the ship did not leave till night, so I had ample time to visit the "house of Simon the tanner." It is "by the sea side" all right, but looks too modern to be impressive to the traveler who does not accept all that tradition says. I paid Cook's tourist agency the equivalent of a dollar to take me through the custom house and out to the ship, and I do not regret spending the money, although it was five times as much as I had paid the native boatman for taking me ashore when I first came to Jaffa. The sea was rough—very rough for me—and a little woman at my side was shaking with nervousness, although she tried to be brave, and her little boy took a firm hold on my clothing. I don't think that I was scared, but I confess that I did not enjoy the motion of the boat as it went sliding down from the crest of the waves, which were higher than any I had previously ridden upon in a rowboat. As darkness had come, it would have been a poor time to be upset, but we reached the vessel in safety. When we came alongside the ship, a boatman on each side of the passenger simply pitched or threw him up on the stairs when the rising wave lifted the little boat to the highest point. It was easily done, but it is an experience one need not care to repeat unnecessarily.
I was now through with my sight-seeing in the Holy Land and aboard the Austrian ship Maria Teresa, which was to carry me to the land of the ancient Pharaohs. Like Jonah, I had paid my fare, so I laid down to sleep. There was a rain in the night, but no one proposed to throw me overboard, and we reached Port Said, at the mouth of the Suez Canal, the next day.
EGYPT, THE LAND OF TOMBS AND TEMPLES.
The Maria Teresa landed me in Port Said, Egypt, Lord's day, October twenty-third, and at seven o'clock that evening I took the train for Cairo, arriving there about four hours later. I had no difficulty in finding a hotel, where I took some rest, but was out very early the next morning to see something of the largest city in Africa. The population is a great mixture of French, Greeks, English, Austrians, Germans, Egyptians, Arabians, Copts, Berbers, Turks, Jews, Negroes, Syrians, Persians, and others. In Smyrna, Damascus, and Jerusalem, cities of the Turkish empire, the streets are narrow, crooked, and dirty, but here are many fine buildings, electric lights, electric cars, and good, wide streets, over which vehicles with rubber tires roll noiselessly.
I first went out to the Mokattam Heights, lying back of the city, at an elevation of six hundred and fifty feet. From the summit an extensive view can be obtained, embracing not only the city of Cairo, with its many mosques and minarets, but the river beyond, and still farther beyond the Gizeh (Gezer) group of the pyramids. The side of the Heights toward the city is a vast quarry, from which large quantities of rock have been taken. An old fort and a mosque stand in solitude on the top. I went out by the citadel and passed the mosque tombs of the Mamelukes, who were originally brought into the country from the Caucasus as slaves, but they became sufficiently powerful to make one of their number Sultan in 1254. The tombs of the Caliphs, successors of Mohammed in temporal and spiritual power, are not far from the Heights.
As I was returning to the city, a laborer followed me a little distance, and indicated that he wanted my name written on a piece of paper he was carrying. I accommodated him, but do not know for what purpose he wanted it. I stopped at the Alabaster Mosque, built after the fashion of one of the mosques of Constantinople, and decorated with alabaster. The outside is full of little depressions, and has no special beauty, but the inside is more attractive. The entrance is through a large court, paved with squares of white marble. The floor of the mosque was nicely covered with carpet, and the walls are coated for a few feet with alabaster, and above that they are painted in imitation of the same material. The numerous lamps do much towards making the place attractive. The attendant said the central chandelier, fitted for three hundred and sixty-six candles, was a present from Louis Philippe, of France. A clock is also shown that came from the same source. The pulpit is a platform at the head of a stairway, and the place for reading the Koran is a small platform three or four feet high, also ascended by steps. Within an inclosure in one corner of the building is the tomb of Mohammed Ali, which, I was told, was visited by the Khedive the day before I was there.
The most interesting part of the day was the afternoon trip to the nine pyramids of the Gizeh group. They may be reached by a drive over the excellent carriage road that leads out to them, or by taking one of the electric cars that run along by this road. Three of the pyramids are large and the others are small, but one, the pyramid of Cheops, is built on such magnificent proportions that it is called "the great pyramid." According to Baedeker, "the length of each side is now seven hundred and fifty feet, but was formerly about seven hundred and sixty-eight feet; the present perpendicular height is four hundred and fifty-one feet, while originally, including the nucleus of the rock at the bottom and the apex, which has now disappeared, it is said to have been four hundred and eighty-two feet. * * * In round numbers, the stupendous structure covers an area of nearly thirteen acres."
It is estimated that two million three hundred thousand blocks of stone, each containing forty cubic feet, were required for building this ancient and wonderful monument, upon which a hundred thousand men are said to have been employed for twenty years. Nearly all of the material was brought across from the east side of the Nile, but the granite that entered into its construction was brought down from Syene, near Assouan, five hundred miles distant. Two chambers are shown to visitors, one of them containing an empty stone coffin. The passageway leading to these chambers is not easily traversed, as it runs at an angle like a stairway with no steps, for the old footholds have become so nearly worn out that the tourist might slip and slide to the bottom were it not for his Arab helpers. A fee of one dollar secures the right to walk about the grounds, ascend the pyramid, and go down inside of it. Three Arabs go with the ticket, and two of them are really needed. Those who went with me performed their work in a satisfactory manner, and while not permitted to ask for "backshish," they let me know that they would accept anything I might have for them. The ascent was rather difficult, as some of the stones are more than a yard high. It is estimated that this mighty monument, which Abraham may have looked upon, contains enough stone to build a wall around the frontier of France. Of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Pyramid of Cheops alone remains. The other attractions here are the Granite Temple, and some tombs, from one of which a jackal ran away as we were approaching. I got back to Cairo after dark, and took the eight o'clock train for Assouan.
This place is about seven hundred miles from Port Said by rail, and is a good sized town. The main street, fronting the river, presents a pleasing appearance with its hotels, Cook's tourist office, the postoffice, and other buildings. Gas and electricity are used for lighting, and the dust in the streets is laid by a real street sprinkler, and not by throwing the water on from a leathern bag, as I saw it in Damascus. The Cataract Hotel is a large place for tourists, with a capacity of three hundred and fifty people. The Savoy Hotel is beautifully located on Elephantine Island, in front of the town. To the south of the town lie the ancient granite quarries of Syene, which furnished the Egyptian workmen building material so long ago, and still lack a great deal of being exhausted. I saw an obelisk lying here which is said to be ninety-two feet long and ten and a half feet wide in the broadest part, but both ends of it were covered. In this section there is an English cemetery inclosed by a wall, and several tombs of the natives, those of the sheiks being prominent.
Farther to the south is a great modern work, the Nile dam, a mile and a quarter long, and built of solid masonry. In the deepest place it is one hundred feet high, and the thickness at the bottom is eighty-eight feet. It was begun in 1899, and at one time upwards of ten thousand men were employed on the works. It seemed to be finished when I was there, but a few workmen were still engaged about the place. The total cost has been estimated at a sum probably exceeding ten millions of dollars. There are one hundred and eighty sluices to regulate the out-flow of the water, which is collected to a height of sixty-five feet during the inundation of the Nile. The dam would have been made higher, but by so doing Philae Island, a short distance up the river, would have been submerged.
The remains on this island are so well preserved that it is almost a misnomer to call them ruins. The little island is only five hundred yards long and sixty yards wide, and contains the Temple of Isis, Temple of Hathor, a kiosk or pavilion, two colonnades, and a small Nilometer. In the gateway to one of the temples is a French inscription concerning Napoleon's campaign in Egypt in 1799. All the buildings are of stone, and the outside walls are covered with figures and inscriptions. Some of the figures are just cut in the rough, never having been finished. Here, as elsewhere in Egypt, very delicate carvings are preserved almost as distinct as though done but recently. The guard on the island was not going to let me see the ruins because I held no ticket. After a little delay, a small boat, carrying some diplomatic officers, came up. These gentlemen, one of whom was a Russian, I think, tried to get the guard to let me see the place with them, but he hesitated, and required them to give him a paper stating that I was there with them. Later, when I got to the place where the tickets were sold, I learned that Philae Island was open for visitors without a ticket. Perhaps the guard thought he would get some "backshish" from me.
I made an interesting visit to the Bisharin village, just outside of Assouan, and near the railroad. The inhabitants are very dark-skinned, and live in booths or tents, covered with something like straw matting. I stopped at one of the lodges, which was probably six feet wide and eight feet long, and high enough to enable the occupants to sit erect on the floor. An old man, naked from the waist up, was sitting outside. A young woman was operating a small hand mill, and one or two other women were sitting there on the ground. They showed me some long strings of beads, and I made a purchase at a low price. While at this lodge, for I can not call it a house, and it is not altogether like a tent, about a dozen of the native children gathered around me, and one, who could speak some English, endeavored to draw out part of my cash by repeating this speech: "Half a piaster, Mister; thank you very much." The girls had their hair in small plaits, which seemed to be well waxed together. One of the boys, about ten years of age, clothed in a peculiar manner, was finely formed, and made a favorable impression on my mind. I would like to see what could be made of him if he were taken entirely away from his unfavorable surroundings and brought up with the care and attention that many American boys receive. He and another lad went with me to see the obelisk in the granite quarry, and I tried to teach them to say: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." As I was repeating the first word of the sentence and trying to induce one of them to follow me, he said, "No blessed," and I failed to get either of them to say these beautiful words. In Egypt and other countries there are millions of persons just as ignorant of the gospel and just as much in need of it as the curly-headed Bisharin lad who conducted me to the granite quarry.
I took a pleasant boat ride across the river, past the beautiful grounds of the Savoy Hotel, to the rock tombs of the great persons of ancient Elephantine. I tarried a little too long at the tombs, or else did not start soon enough, for darkness came upon us soon after leaving them. For some distance the boatman walked on the shore and towed the boat with a long rope, while I tried to keep it off of the rocks with the rudder. There was not enough wind to make the sail useful, and as we were passing around the end of Elephantine Island we drifted against the rocks, but with no other loss than the loss of some time. It was my desire to see the Nilometer on the island, and I did see it, but not until after I had sent the boatman to buy a candle. This ancient water-gauge was repaired in 1870, after a thousand years of neglect. The following description by Strabo is taken from Baedeker's Guide to Egypt: "The Nilometer is a well, built of regular hewn stones, on the bank of the Nile, in which is recorded the rise of the stream—not only the maximum, but also the minimum, and average rise, for the water in the well rises and falls with the stream. On the side of the well are marks measuring the height for the irrigation and other water levels. These are published for general information. * * * This is of importance to the peasants for the management of the water, the embankments, the canals, etc., and to the officials on account of the taxes, for the higher the rise of the water, the higher the taxes." It needs to be said, however, that this "well" is not circular, but rectangular, and has a flight of steps leading down to the water.
On the way back to Cairo I stopped at Luxor, on the site of the ancient city of Thebes. The chief attraction here is the Temple of Luxor, six hundred and twenty-one feet long and one hundred and eighty feet wide. In recent times this temple was entirely buried, and a man told me he owned a house on the spot which he sold to the government for about four hundred and fifty dollars, not knowing of the existence of a temple buried beneath his dwelling. Some of the original statues of Rameses II. remain in front of the ruins. I measured the right arm of one of these figures, from the pit where it touches the side to the same point in front, a distance of about six feet, and that does not represent the entire circumference, for the granite between the arm and the body was never entirely cut away. Near by stands a large red granite obelisk, with carvings from top to bottom. A companion to this one, for they were always erected in pairs, has been removed. In ancient times a paved street led from this temple to Karnak, which is reached by a short walk. This ancient street was adorned by a row of ram-headed sphinxes on each side. Toward Karnak many of them are yet to be seen in a badly mutilated condition, but there is another avenue containing forty of these figures in a good state of preservation.
The first of the Karnak temples reached is one dedicated to the Theban moon god, Khons, reared by Rameses III. The Temple of Ammon, called "the throne of the world," lies a little beyond. I spent half a day on the west side of the river in what was the burial ground of ancient Thebes, where also numerous temples were erected. My first stop was before the ruins of Kurna. The Temple of Sethos I. originally had ten columns before it, but one is now out of place. The Temple Der el Bahri bore an English name, signifying "most splendid of all," and it may not have been misnamed. It is situated at the base of a lofty barren cliff of a yellowish cast, and has been partially restored.
In 1881 a French explorer discovered the mummies of several Egyptian rulers in an inner chamber of this temple, that had probably been removed to this place for security from robbers. In the number were the remains of Rameses II., who was probably reigning in the boyhood days of Moses, and the mummy of Set II., perhaps the Pharaoh of the Oppression, and I saw both of them in the museum in Cairo.
The Ramasseum is another large temple, built by Rameses II., who is said to have had sixty-nine sons and seventy daughters. There are also extensive remains of another temple called Medinet Habu. About a half a mile away from this ruin are the two colossal statues of Memnon, which were surrounded by water, so I could not get close to them. The following dimensions of one of them are given: "Height of the figure, fifty-two feet; height of the pedestal on which the feet rest, thirteen feet; height of the entire monument, sixty-five feet. But when the figure was adorned with the long-since vanished crown, the original height may have reached sixty-nine feet. * * * Each foot is ten and one-half feet long. * * * The middle finger on one hand is four and a half feet long, and the arm from the tip of the finger to the elbow measures fifteen and one-half feet."
All about these temples are indications of ancient graves, from which the Arabs have dug the mummies. As I rode out, a boy wanted to sell me a mummy hand, and another had the mummy of a bird. They may both have been counterfeits made especially for unsuspecting tourists. There are also extensive rock-cut tombs of the ancient kings and queens, which are lighted by electricity in the tourist season. I did not visit them on account of the high price of admission. The government has very properly taken charge of the antiquities, and a ticket is issued for six dollars that admits to all these ruins in Upper Egypt. Tickets for any one particular place were not sold last season, but tourists were allowed to visit all places not inclosed without a ticket.
While in Luxor I visited the American Mission Boarding School for Girls, conducted by Miss Buchanan, who was assisted by a Miss Gibson and five native teachers. A new building, with a capacity for four hundred boarders, was being erected at a cost of about thirty-five thousand dollars. This would be the finest building for girls in Egypt when finished, I was told, and most of the money for it had been given by tourists. I spent a night in Luxor, staying in the home of Youssef Said, a native connected with the mission work. His uncle, who could not speak English, expressed himself as being glad to have "a preacher of Jesus Christ" to stay in his house.
Leaving Luxor, I returned to Cairo for some more sight-seeing, and I had a very interesting time of it. In Gen. 41:45 we read: "Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphenath-paneah; and gave him to wife Asenath, the daughter of Potipherah, priest of On." Heliopolis, meaning city of the sun, is another name for this place, from whence the wife of Joseph came. It is only a few miles from Cairo, and easily reached by railway. All that I saw of the old city was a lonely obelisk, "probably the oldest one in the world," standing in a cultivated field and surrounded by the growing crop. It is sixty-six feet high, six feet square at the base, and is well preserved.
The Ezbekiah Gardens are situated in the best portion of Cairo. This beautiful park contains quite a variety of trees, including the banyan, and is a resort of many of the people. Band concerts are held, and a small entrance fee is taken at the gate.
On the thirtieth of the month I visited the Museum, which has been moved to the city and installed in its own commodious and substantial building. This vast collection of relics of this wonderful old country affords great opportunities for study. I spent a good deal of time there seeing the coffins of wood, white limestone, red granite, and alabaster; sacrificial tables, mummies, ancient paintings, weights and measures, bronze lamps, necklaces, stone and alabaster jars, bronze hinges, articles of pottery, and many other things. It is remarkable how some of the embalmed bodies, thousands of years old, are preserved. I looked down upon the Pharaoh who is supposed to have oppressed Israel. The body is well preserved, but it brought thoughts to me of the smallness of the fleshly side of man. He who once ruled in royal splendor now lies there in very humble silence. In some cases the cloths wrapped around these mummies are preserved almost perfectly, and I remember a gilt mask that was so bright that one might have taken it for a modern product. After the body was securely wrapped, a picture was sometimes painted over the face, and now, after the lapse of centuries, some of these are very clear and distinct. I saw a collection of scarabaei, or beetles, which were anciently worshiped in this country. Dealers offer figures of this kind for sale, but the most of them are probably manufactured for the tourist trade.
On Lord's day, October thirtieth, I attended the evening services at the American Mission, and went to Bedrashen the following day. This is the nearest railway station to Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt, now an irregular pile of ruined mud bricks. I secured a donkey, and a boy to care for it and tell me where to go. We soon passed the dilapidated ruins of the old capital. Two prostrate statues of great size were seen on the way to the Step Pyramid of Sakkara, which is peculiar in that it is built with great offsets or steps, still plainly visible, although large quantities of the rock have crumbled and fallen down. The Department of Antiquities has posted a notice in French, Arabic and English, to the effect that it is dangerous to make the ascent, and that the government will not be responsible for accidents to tourists who undertake it. I soon reached the top without any special difficulty, and with no more danger, so far as I could see, than one experiences in climbing a steep hill strewn with rocks. I entered another pyramid, which has a stone in one side of it twenty-five feet long and about five and a half feet high. Some more tombs were visited, and the delicate carving on the inner walls was observed. In one instance a harvest scene was represented, in another the fish in a net could be discerned. The Serapeum is an underground burial place for the sacred bull, discovered by Mariette in 1850, after having been buried since about 1400 B.C. In those times the bull was an object of worship in Egypt, and when one died, he was carefully embalmed and put in a stone coffin in one of the chambers of the Serapeum. Some of these coffins are twelve feet high and fifteen feet long.
Before leaving Cairo, I went into the famous Shepheard's Hotel, where I received some information about the place from the manager, who looked like a well-salaried city pastor. The Grand Continental presents a better appearance on the outside, but I do not believe it equals Shepheard's on the inside. I was now ready to turn towards home, so I dropped down to Port Said again, where there is little of interest to the tourist except the ever-changing panorama of ships in the mouth of the Suez Canal, and the study of the social condition of the people. My delay in the city while waiting for a ship gave me a good deal of time for writing and visiting the missionaries. The Seamen's Rest is conducted by Mr. Locke, who goes out in the harbor and gathers up sailors in his steam launch, and carries them back to their vessels after the service. One night, after speaking in one of these meetings, I rode out with him. The American Mission conducts a school for boys, and Feltus Hanna, the native superintendent, kindly showed me around. The Peniel Mission is conducted by two American ladies. The British and Foreign Bible Society has a depot here, and keeps three men at work visiting ships in the harbor all the time. I attended the services in the chapel of the Church of England one morning. With all these religious forces the city is very wicked. The street in which my hotel was located was largely given up to drinking and harlotry.
On the ninth of November the French ship Congo stopped in the harbor, and I went down late in the evening to embark, but the authorities would not permit me to go aboard, because I had not been examined by the medical officer, who felt my pulse and signed a paper that was never called for, and I went aboard all right. The ship stopped at Alexandria, and I went around in the city, seeing nothing of equal interest to Pompey's Pillar, a monument standing ninety-eight feet and nine inches high. The main shaft is seventy-three feet high and nearly thirty feet in circumference. We reached Marseilles in the evening of November sixteenth, after experiencing some weather rough enough to make me uncomfortable, and several of the others were really seasick. I had several hours in Paris, which was reached early the next day, and the United States consulate and the Louvre, the national museum of France, were visited. From Paris I went to London by way of Dieppe and New Haven. I left summer weather in Egypt, and found that winter was on hand in France and England. London was shrouded in a fog. I went back to my friends at Twynholm, and made three addresses on Lord's day, and spoke again on Monday night. I sailed from Liverpool for New York on the SS. Cedric November twenty-third. We were in the harbor at Queenstown, Ireland, the next day, and came ashore at the New York custom house on the second of December. The Cedric was then the second largest ship in the world, being seven hundred feet long and seventy-five feet broad. She carries a crew of three hundred and forty, and has a capacity for over three thousand passengers. On this trip she carried one thousand three hundred and thirty-six, and the following twenty classes of people were represented: Americans, English, French, German, Danes, Norwegians, Roumanians, Spanish, Arabs, Japanese, Negroes, Greeks, Russian Jews, Fins, Swedes, Austrians, Armenians, Poles, Irish, and Scotch. A great stream of immigrants is continually pouring into the country at this point. Twelve thousand were reported as arriving in one day, and a recent paper contains a note to the effect that the number arriving in June will exceed eighty thousand, as against fifty thousand in June of last year. "The character of the immigrants seems to grow steadily worse."
My traveling companion from Port Said to Marseilles and from Liverpool to New York was Solomon Elia, who had kindly shown me through the Israelite Alliance School in Jerusalem. I reached Philadelphia the same day the ship landed in New York, but was detained there with brethren on account of a case of quinsy. I reached home on the fourteenth of December, after an absence of five months and three days, in which time I had seen something of fourteen foreign countries, having a very enjoyable and profitable trip.
GEOGRAPHY OF PALESTINE.
This section of country has been known by several names. It has been called the "Land of Canaan," the "Land of Israel," the "Land of Promise," the "Land of the Hebrews," and the "Holy Land." Canaan was simply the country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan, extending from Mt. Lebanon on the north to the Desert of Arabia on the south. Dan was in the extreme northern part, and Beer-sheba lay in the southern end of the country, one hundred and thirty-nine miles distant. The average width of the land is about forty miles, and the total area is in the neighborhood of six thousand miles. "It is not in size or physical characteristics proportioned to its moral and historical position as the theater of the most momentous events in the world's history." Palestine, the land occupied by the twelve tribes, included the Land of Canaan and a section of country east of the Jordan one hundred miles long and about twenty-five miles wide, occupied by Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh. The Land of Promise was still more extensive, reaching from "the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates," embracing about sixty thousand square miles, or a little less than the five New England States. The country is easily divided into four parallel strips. Beginning at the Mediterranean, we have the Maritime Plain, the Mountain Region, the Jordan Valley, and the Eastern Table-Land.
The long stretch of lowland known as the Maritime Plain is divided into three sections. The portion lying north of Mt. Carmel was called Phoenicia. It varies in width from half a mile in the north to eight miles in the south. The ancient cities of Tyre and Sidon belonged to this section. Directly east of Mt. Carmel is the Plain of Esdraelon, physically a part of the Maritime Plain. It is an irregular triangle, whose sides are fourteen, sixteen, and twenty-five miles respectively, the longest side being next to Mt. Carmel. Here Barak defeated the army of Sisera under Jabin, and here Josiah, king of Judah, was killed in a battle with the Egyptians under Pharaoh-necoh.
The Plains of Sharon and Philistia, lying south of Carmel, are usually regarded as the true Maritime Plain. Sharon extends southward from Carmel about fifty miles, reaching a little below Jaffa, and has an average width of eight miles. The Zerka, or Crocodile river, which traverses this plain, is the largest stream of Palestine west of the Jordan. There are several other streams crossing the plain from the mountains to the sea, but they usually cease to flow in the summer season. Joppa, Lydda, Ramleh, and Caesarea belong to this plain. Herod the Great built Caesarea, and spent large sums of money on its palace, temple, theater, and breakwater.
The Plain of Philistia extends thirty or forty miles from the southern limits of Sharon to Gaza, varying in width from twelve to twenty-five miles. It is well watered by several streams, some of which flow all the year. Part of the water from the mountains flows under the ground and rises in shallow lakes near the coast. Water can easily be found here, as also in Sharon, by digging wells, and the soil is suitable for the culture of small grains and for pasture. During a part of the year the plain is beautifully ornamented with a rich growth of brightly colored flowers, a characteristic of Palestine in the wet season.
Gaza figures in the history of Samson, who "laid hold of the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and plucked them up, bar and all, and put them on his shoulders and carried them up to the top of the mountain that is before Hebron." Ashkelon, on the coast, is connected with the history of the Crusades. Ashdod, or Azotus, is where Philip was found after the baptism of the eunuch. It is said that Psammetichus, an ancient Egyptian king, captured this place after a siege of twenty-seven years. Ekron and Gath also belonged to this plain.
The ridge of mountains lying between the coast plain and the Jordan valley form the backbone of the country. Here, more than elsewhere, the Israelites made their homes, on account of the hostility of the inhabitants in the lowlands. This ridge is a continuation of the Lebanon range, and extends as far south as the desert. In Upper Galilee the mountains reach an average height of two thousand eight hundred feet above sea level, but in Lower Galilee they are a thousand feet lower. In Samaria and Judaea they reach an altitude of two or three thousand feet. The foot-hills, called the Shefelah, and the Negeb, or "South Country," complete the ridge. The highest peak is Jebel Mukhmeel, in Northern Palestine, rising ten thousand two hundred feet above the sea. Mt. Tabor, in Galilee, is one thousand eight hundred and forty-three feet high, while Gerizim and Ebal, down in Samaria, are two thousand eight hundred and fifty feet and three thousand and seventy-five feet respectively. The principal mountains in Judaea are Mt. Zion, two thousand five hundred and fifty feet; Mt. Moriah, about one hundred feet lower; Mount of Olives, two thousand six hundred and sixty-five feet, and Mt. Hebron, three thousand and thirty feet. Nazareth, Shechem, Jerusalem, and Hebron belong to the Mountain Region.
The Jordan Valley is the lowest portion of the earth's surface. No other depressions are more than three hundred feet below sea level, but the Jordan is six hundred and eighty-two feet lower than the ocean at the Sea of Galilee, and nearly thirteen hundred feet lower where it enters the Dead Sea. This wonderful depression, which includes the Dead Sea, forty-five miles long, and the valley south of it, one hundred miles in length, is two hundred and fifty miles long and from four to fourteen miles in width, and is called the Arabah. The sources of the Jordan are one hundred and thirty-four miles from the mouth, but the numerous windings of the stream make it two hundred miles long. The Jordan is formed by the union of three streams issuing from springs at an elevation of seventeen hundred feet above the sea. The principal source is the spring at Dan, one of the largest in the world, as it sends forth a stream twenty feet wide and from twenty to thirty inches deep. The spring at Banias, the Caesarea Philippi of the Scriptures, is the eastern source. The Hashbany flows from a spring forming the western source. A few miles south of the union of the streams above mentioned the river widens into the waters of Merom, a small lake nearly on a level with the Mediterranean. In the next few miles it descends rapidly, and empties into the Sea of Galilee, called also the Sea of Chinnereth, Sea of Tiberias, and Lake of Gennesaret. In the sixty-five miles from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea the fall is about six hundred feet. The rate of descent is not uniform throughout the whole course of the river. In one section it drops sixty feet to the mile, while there is one stretch of thirteen miles with a descent of only four and a half feet to the mile. The average is twenty-two feet to the mile. The width varies from eighty to one hundred and eighty feet, and the depth from five to twelve feet. Caesarea Philippi, at the head of the valley, Capernaum, Magdala, Tiberias, and Tarrichaea were cities on the Sea of Galilee. Jericho and Gilgal were in the plain at the southern extremity, and Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, upon which the wrath of God was poured, were somewhere in the region of the Dead Sea.
The Eastern Table-Land has a mountain wall four thousand feet high facing the river. This table-land, which is mostly fertile, extends eastward about twenty miles, and terminates in the Arabian Desert, which is still higher. Here the mountains are higher and steeper than those west of the Jordan. Mt. Hermon, in the north, is nine thousand two hundred feet high. South of the Jarmuk River is Mt. Gilead, three thousand feet high, and Mt. Nebo, lying east of the northern end of the Dead Sea, reaches an elevation of two thousand six hundred and seventy feet. Besides the Jarmuk, another stream, the Jabbok, flows into the Jordan from this side. The Arnon empties into the Dead Sea. The northern section was called Bashan, the middle, Gilead, and the southern part, Moab. Bashan anciently had many cities, and numerous ruins yet remain. In the campaign of Israel against Og, king of Bashan, sixty cities were captured. Many events occurred in Gilead, where were situated Jabesh-Gilead, Ramoth-Gilead, and the ten cities of the Decapolis, with the exception of Beth-shean, which was west of the Jordan. From the summit of Mt. Pisgah, a peak of Mt. Nebo, Moses viewed the Land of Promise, and from these same heights Balaam looked down on the Israelites and undertook to curse them, Moab lies south of the Arnon and east of the Dead Sea. In the time of a famine, an Israelite, named Elimelech, with his wife and sons, sojourned in this land. After the death of Elimelech and both of his sons, who had married in the land, Naomi returned to Bethlehem, accompanied by her daughter-in-law, Ruth, the Moabitess, who came into the line of ancestry of David and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Once, when the kings of Judah, Israel, and Edom invaded the land, the king of Moab (when they came to Kir-hareseth, the capital) took his oldest son, who would have succeeded him on the throne, "and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall." At this the invaders "departed from him and returned to their own land."
The political geography of Palestine is so complicated that it can not be handled in the space here available. Only a few words, applicable to the country in New Testament times, can be said. The provinces of Galilee, Samaria, and Judaea were on the west side of the Jordan, while the Decapolis and Perea lay east of that river. The northern province of Galilee, which saw most of the ministry of Jesus, extended from the Mediterranean to the Sea of Galilee, and a much greater distance from the north to the south. It was peopled with Jews, and was probably a much better country than is generally supposed, as it contained a large number of cities and villages, and produced fish, oil, wheat, wine, figs, and flax. "It was in Christ's time one of the gardens of the world—well watered, exceedingly fertile, thoroughly cultivated, and covered with a dense population."—Merrill.
Samaria, lying south of Galilee, extended from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, and was occupied by a mixed race, formed by the mingling of Jews with the foreigners who had been sent into the land. When they were disfellowshiped by the Jews, about 460 B.C., they built a temple on Mt. Gerizim.
The province of Judaea was the largest in Palestine, and extended from the Mediterranean on the west to the Dead Sea and the Jordan on the east. It was bounded on the north by Samaria, and on the south by the desert. Although but fifty-five miles long and about thirty miles wide, it held out against Egypt, Babylonia, and Rome.
The Decapolis, or region of ten Gentile cities, was the northeastern part of Palestine, extending eastward from the Jordan to the desert. Perea lay south of the Decapolis, and east of the Jordan and Dead Sea. The kingdom of Herod the Great, whose reign ended B.C. 4, included all of this territory. After his death the country was divided into tetrarchies. Archelaus ruled over Judaea and Samaria; Antipas ("Herod the tetrarch") had control of Galilee and Perea; Philip had a section of country east of the Sea of Galilee, and Lysanius ruled over Abilene, a small section of country between Mt. Hermon and Damascus, not included in the domain of Herod the Great. Herod Agrippa was made king by Caligula, and his territory embraced all that his grandfather, Herod the Great, had ruled over, with Abilene added, making his territory more extensive than that of any Jewish king after Solomon. He is the "Herod the king" who killed the Apostle James and imprisoned Peter. After delivering an oration at Caesarea, he died a horrible death, "because he gave not God the glory." At his death, in A.D. 44, the country was divided into two provinces. The northern section was ruled by Herod Agrippa II. till the Jewish State was dissolved, in A.D. 70. He was the "King Agrippa" before whom Paul spoke. The southern part of the country, called the province of Judaea, was ruled by procurators having their seat at Caesarea. When Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70, the country was annexed to Syria.
The climate depends more upon local conditions than on the latitude, which is the same as Southern Georgia and Alabama, Jerusalem being on the parallel of Savannah. In point of temperature it is about the same as these localities, but in other respects it differs much. The year has two seasons—the dry, lasting from the first of April to the first of November, and the rainy season, lasting the other five months, during which time there are copious rains. One authority says: "Were the old cisterns cleaned and mended, and the beautiful tanks and aqueducts repaired, the ordinary fall of rain would be quite sufficient for the wants of the inhabitants and for irrigation." The summers are hot, the winters mild. Snow sometimes falls, but does not last long, and ice is seldom formed.
Palestine is not a timbered country. The commonest oak is a low, scrubby bush. The "cedars of Lebanon" have almost disappeared. The carob tree, white poplar, a thorn bush, and the oleander are found in some localities. The principal fruit-bearing trees are the fig, olive, date palm, pomegranate, orange, and lemon. Grapes, apples, apricots, quinces, and other fruits also grow here. Wheat, barley, and a kind of corn are raised, also tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, and tobacco. The ground is poorly cultivated with inferior tools, and the grain is tramped out with cattle, as in the long ago.
Sheep and goats are the most numerous domestic animals, a peculiarity of the sheep being the extra large "fat tail" (Lev. 3:9), a lump of pure fat from ten to fifteen inches long and from three to five inches thick. Cattle, camels, horses, mules, asses, dogs and chickens are kept.
HISTORIC SKETCH OF PALESTINE.
In the ancient Babylonian city called Ur of the Chaldees lived the patriarch Terah, who was the father of three sons, Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Lot was the son of Haran, who died in Ur. Terah, accompanied by Abram, Sarai, and Lot, started for "the land of Canaan," but they "came unto Haran and dwelt there," "and Terah died in Haran." "Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." So Abram, Sarai, and Lot came into the land of Canaan about 2300 B.C., and dwelt first at Shechem, but "he removed from thence unto the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west and Ai on the east." Abram did not remain here, but journeyed to the south, and when a famine came, he entered Egypt. Afterwards he returned to the southern part of Canaan, and still later he returned "unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai. * * * And Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents." On account of some discord between the herdsmen of the two parties, "Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we are brethren." Accepting his uncle's proposition, Lot chose the well watered Plain of the Jordan, "journeyed east," "and moved his tent as far as Sodom," but "Abram moved his tent, and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron."
Some time after this Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, entered the region occupied by Lot, and overcame the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela, carrying away the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, "and they took Lot * * * and his goods." "And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew," who "led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan." As a result of this hasty pursuit, Abram "brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people." "The king of Sodom went out to meet" Abram after his great victory, and offered him the goods for his services, but the offer was refused. Abram was also met by "Melchizedek, king of Salem," who "brought forth bread and wine," and "blessed him." Before his death, the first Hebrew saw the smoke from Sodom and Gomorrah going up "as the smoke of a furnace," and he also passed through the severe trial of sacrificing his son Isaac. At the age of one hundred and seventy-five "the father of the faithful" "gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, * * * and Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah," at Hebron, where Sarah had been laid to rest when the toils and cares of life were over.
From Abraham, through Ishmael, descended the Ishmaelites; through Midian, the Midianites; and through Isaac, the chosen people, called Israelites, from Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. The interesting story of Joseph tells how his father and brothers, with their families, were brought into Egypt at the time of a famine, where they grew from a few families to a great nation, capable of maintaining an army of more than six hundred thousand men. A new king, "who knew not Joseph," came on the throne, and after a period of oppression, the exodus took place, about 1490 B.C., the leader being Moses, a man eighty years of age. At his death, after forty years of wandering in the wilderness, Joshua became the leader of Israel, and they crossed the Jordan at Gilgal, a few miles north of the Dead Sea, capturing Jericho in a peculiar manner. Two other incidents in the life of Joshua may be mentioned here. One was his victory over the Amorites in the neighborhood of Gibeon and Beth-horon, where more were slain by the hailstones which Jehovah cast down upon them than were killed by Israel with the sword. It was on this occasion that Joshua said: "Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Aijalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation had avenged themselves of their enemies. * * * And there was no day like that before or after it." The other event is the complete victory of Israel over the immense army of Jabin, king of Hazor, fought at the Waters of Merom, in Galilee. The combined forces of Jabin and several confederate kings, "even as the sand that is upon the sea-shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many," were utterly destroyed. Then came the allotment of the territory west of the Jordan to the nine and a half tribes, as Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh had been assigned land east of the river. The allotment was made by Joshua, Eleazer, the priest, "and the heads of the fathers' houses of the tribes of the children of Israel."
The period of the Judges, extending from Joshua to Saul, over three hundred years, was a time in which Israel was troubled by several heathen tribes, including the Moabites, Ammonites, Midianites, Amalekites, and Canaanites. The most troublesome of all were the Philistines, who "were repulsed by Shamgar and harassed by Samson," but they continued their hostility, capturing the Ark of the Covenant in the days of Eli, and finally bringing Israel so completely under their power that they had to go to the Philistines to sharpen their tools.
The cry was raised: "Make us a king to judge us, like all the nations." Although this was contrary to the will of God, and amounted to rejecting the Lord, the Almighty gave directions for making Saul king, when the rebellious Israelites "refused to hearken to the voice of Samuel," and said: "Nay, but we will have a king over us." Two important events in Saul's reign are the battle of Michmash and the war with Amalek. In the first instance a great host of Philistines were encamped at Michmash, and Saul, with his army, was at Gilgal. Samuel was to come and offer a sacrifice, but did not arrive at the appointed time, and the soldiers deserted, till Saul's force numbered only about six hundred. In his strait, the king offered the burnt offering himself, and immediately Samuel appeared, heard his explanation, and declared: "Thou hast done foolishly; thou hast not kept the commandment of Jehovah thy God. * * * Now thy kingdom shall not continue." Saul's loyalty to God was again tested in the affair with Amalek, and his disobedience in sparing Agag and the best of the cattle and sheep should be better known and more heeded than it is. Concerning this, the prophet of God chastised him, saying: "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim. Because thou hast rejected the word of Jehovah, he hath also rejected thee from being king." The dark picture of Saul's doings is here and there relieved by the unadulterated love of Jonathan and David, "which, like the glintings of the diamond in the night," takes away some of the deepest shadows.
The next king, Jesse's ruddy-faced shepherd boy, was anointed by Samuel at Bethlehem, and for seven and a half years he reigned over Judah from his capital at Hebron. Abner made Ish-bosheth, the only surviving son of Saul, king over Israel, "and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David." Abner, who had commanded Saul's army, became offended at the king he had made, and went to Hebron to arrange with David to turn Israel over to him, but Joab treacherously slew him in revenge for the blood of Asahel. It was on this occasion that David uttered the notable words: "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?" Afterwards Rechab and Baanah slew Ish-bosheth in his bedchamber and carried his head to David, who was so displeased that he caused them to be killed, and their hands and feet were cut off and hanged up by the pool in Hebron. Then the tribes of Israel came voluntarily and made themselves the subjects of King David, who captured Jebus, better known as Jerusalem, and moved his capital to that city. During his reign the Philistines were again troublesome, and a prolonged war was waged against the Ammonites. During this war David had his record stained by his sinful conduct in the matter of Uriah's wife.