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Here we are on the top of Tabor! Let us breathe our tired animals beneath this fine old oak at the entrance into the fortress. You observe that a fosse once protected the wall on all this part of the summit, because it is less precipitous than elsewhere. This narrow plot on the north side, I suppose, was leveled into its present shape by the inhabitants of the ancient city for gardens, or to make a hippodrome and parade-ground. South of this a rocky ridge rises some fifty feet higher, and the entire summit was surrounded by a heavy wall, strengthened with towers at suitable distances, and farther defended by a ditch when needed. These works are obviously of very different ages, and history not only accounts for, but demands them. There was a town here, and no doubt fortified, at or before the time of Joshua. Here Barak and Deborah assembled the thousands of Naphtali to attack Sisera. And Tabor is never lost sight of either by Hebrew historian or poet. It has therefore a story many times too long for us to repeat-Canaanitish, Jewish, Græco-Macedonian, Roman, Christian, Saracenic, Frank, and Turk. Parts of these fortifications are doubtless Jewish, but it is quite impossible to distinguish the various ages of architecture with certainty. Nothing remains now but a confused mass of broken walls, towers, vaults, cisterns, and houses, some of which indicate the sites of the convents and churches erected by the Crusaders. The Greek Church has recently fitted up, with the assistance of Russian gold, two or three vaults here on the left, as a chapel and residence of the solitary priest and keeper-a foreign monk, whose appearance is not over-saintly, nor his cell particularly sweet. Both it and the chapel smelt of arrack the last time I was here, and the red eyes and bloated countenance of the priest did not indicate “total abstinence.” The Latin monks from Nazareth also celebrate mass here on certain festivals. I once saw a large procession, with drums and cymbals, singing and clapping hands, and the indispensable roar of muskets, set out from that town to keep the feast of the Transfiguration here at these forsaken shrines.
Do you suppose that this is the scene of that stupendous
event? I see it called in question by many modern tourists and critics.
If I hesitate to admit the claims of Tabor to the honor of the Transfiguration, it is not from any thing in the mount itself. No more noble or appropriate theatre for such a glorious manifestation could be found or desired. Nor does the fact that there may have been a village on the top at that time present any difficulty. There are many secluded and densely-wooded terraces on the north and northeast sides admirably adapted to the scenes of the Transfiguration. I have been delighted to wander through some of them, and certainly regretted that my early faith in this site had been disturbed by prying critics; and, after reading all that they have advanced against the current tradition, I am not fully convinced. You can examine this vexed question at your leisure, and have as good a right to form an independent opinion on it as any body else, for all that is known about it is found in Matthew xvii., Mark ix., and Luke ix., which you can see at a glance contain nothing very decisive against the claims of Tabor. The topographical indications are very uncertain and obscure.
But, however we may dispose of this question, Tabor will always be a place of great interest. Its remarkable shape and striking position would attract admiration in any country, and the magnificent prospect from the top will always draw pilgrims and tourists thither. I have climbed to it many times, and shall certainly repeat my visits whenever I pass this way. It is from Tabor that one gets the best general view of central Palestine, and especially of the rise and direction of the different water-courses by which the great plain of Esdraelon is drained. In common with others, I have carefully sought the summit level of this part of the plain, and, until lately, without entire success. In my youthful days I was familiar with old maps which made the Kishon run in a broad, straight canal from the Bay of Acre to the Jordan. Of course, this is absurd in itself, and rendered still more so by the well-ascertained fact that the Jordan east of Tabor is seven or eight hundred feet lower than
the Mediterranean. The old tradition, however, is not without a semblance of fact to rest upon. I once went directly across from Debûrieh to Nain, which you see to the southwest of us about four miles, on the slope of Jebel ed Dûhy. Between these two villages the plain is so perfectly level that I could not determine the exact line where the water would flow east and where west, nor could the eye detect the slope either way except at a considerable distance. An immense amount of water descends in winter from these oak-clad hills north and west of Tabor, and enters the plain between Ksalis and Debûrieh. It might well happen, therefore, that this flat space would be so flooded that a part would find its way westward to the Kishon, and another part descend along the base of Tabor into Wady Sherrar, and thence into the Jordan. And this it actually does, as I have clearly proved this winter. Being detained in Nazareth by a very heavy storm, our company set out, during a temporary lull, for a gallop to Endor and Nain. Descending to the plain at Ksalis by the most frightful of all ridable paths, we struck out into Esdraelon direct for Endor, and, of course, the path led diagonally across toward the southeast. It was all flooded with water, and spongy enough; but my search ended in palpable certainty. All the water that came foaming off these hills east of Ksalis ran directly for this Wady Sherrar, and no mistake, while all west of that village (and there was plenty of it) flowed without hesitation westward to the Kishon. So, also, the drainings of Jebeled Dûhy from about Endor went to the Sherrar and the Jordan, while those to the west of it joined the Kishon. A line drawn from Ksalis to Endor, therefore, passes directly along the summitlevel between the Kishon and the Sherrar. The Wady Jalût, however, on the other side of Jebel ed Dûhy, extends much farther to the west than this, draining the central part of Esdraelon into the valley of Jezreel from about Fûlîeh. These two streams, the Jalûd and the Kishon, therefore, overlap one another for many miles, the arms of the latter, north and south of Jezreel, carrying the waters from the mountains to the Mediterranean, while the Jalûd takes those SOURCES OF THE KISHON-BATTLE-FIELD OF BARAK. 141 from the centre into the Jordan. The winter torrents, which come down from the regions of Jelbûn east of Jenîn, are the most distant branches of the Kishon; but the most distant perennial source of this famous river is the Fountain of Jenîn itself—the En Gannim (Fountain of Gardens) given to Issachar by Joshua. This is re-enforced on its way westward by the waters of Lejjûn, and many other rivulets from the hills .of Samaria and wadies of Carmel, and also from springs and marshes in the lower part of the plain itself; but they are not strong enough to keep the river running during the summer and autumn. I have crossed the bed of the Kishon (even after it enters the plain of Acre) in the early part of April, when it was quite dry. The truth is, that the strictly permanent Kishon is one of the shortest rivers in the world. You will find the source in the vast fountains called Sa'adîyeh, not more than three miles east of Haifa. They flow out from the very roots of Carmel, almost on a level with the sea, and the water is brackish. They form a deep, broad stream at once, which creeps sluggishly through an impracticable marsh to the sea; and it is this stream which the traveler crosses on the shore. Of course, it is largely swollen during the great rains of winter by the longer river from the interior. It is then much easier to find than to get over.
I once crossed diagonally through the lower part of Esdraelon from Semmunia to Wady Kŭsab, and had no little trouble with its bottomless mire and tangled grass.
I have described thus minutely this noble plain and “ancient river,” partly because I have nowhere met with a good and correct account of them, and partly to prepare the way for an intelligible conversation about some of those Biblical scenes in which they figure most largely. I, of course, refer to the battle of Barak, the sacrifice of Elijah, and the slaughter of Baal's priests at the Kishon.
Is the battle-field of Barak visible from here?
Very distinctly. On the border of the plain to the southwest you can distinguish the bold artificial Tell el Mutsel
Josh. xxi. 29.
lim, near Lejjûn, the Megiddo of the Bible. Southeast of it is a village called Te'ennûkh, the Taannach of Judges. Below these two, on the plain, the host of Sisera was encamped. Barak, accompanied by the heroic Deborah, was where we now are, with their ten thousand courageous Naphtalites from Kadesh. On the morning of that eventful day, probably long before it was light, Deborah set the little army in motion with the energetic command and animating promise, Up, for this is the day in which the Lord has delivered Sisera into thine hand. Is not the Lord
gone out before thee? Rapidly they descend the mountain, cross over by Nain into the valley of Jezreel, then incline to the left to avoid the low and marshy ground, and by the first faint light of the morning they are upon the sleeping host of the Canaanites. This assault, wholly unexpected, threw them into instant and irrecoverable confusion. But half awake, the whole army fled in dismay down the plain, hotly pursued by the victorious Barak. No time was allowed to recover from their panic. God also fought against them : “The earth trembled, the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.” Josephus adds that a storm from the east beat furiously in the faces of the Canaanites, but only on the backs of the Jews. The storm is required by both the narrative of the action and the song of victory. It was to this, I suppose, that Deborah alluded, " Is not the Lord gone out before thee?" and this it certainly was which swelled the Kishon, so that it swept away and drowned the flying host, for it never could do that except during a great rain. The army of Sisera naturally sought to regain the strongly-fortified Harosheth of the Gentiles, from which they had marched up to their camping-ground a short time before. This place is at the lower end of the narrow vale through which the Kishon passes out of Esdraelon into the plain of Acre, and this was their only practicable line of retreat. The victorious enemy was behind them; on their left were the hills of Samaria, in the band of their enemies; on their right was the swollen river and the marshes of Thora ; they had no
Judg. iv. 14.