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verbially the darkest, and both men and animals are then buried in deepest sleep. The very watch-dogs become drowsy. Besides, if successful, they want the opening light of day to complete the victory, and secure the plunder; and, if defeated, they need the light to gather up their scattered troops, and make good their retreat. Gideon, therefore, had the entire day, and that in harvest time, to collect the surrounding tribes, and pursue the flying foes.
Is it still the custom for men among these Bedawîn “Ishmaelites" to wear gold earrings?
I have often seen them, and among certain of the tribes it is quite the fashion; but these golden earrings belonged, in part, no doubt, to the women. Bedawîn women not only have them in their ears, but also large rings are suspended from the nose. These are the face jewels, I suppose, which are mentioned very early in Biblical history. But you interrupt the order of my midnight memories. "A change came over the spirit of my dream." I was back at Endor, and the witch stood within a dismal cavern, working out her wicked sorceries. Samuel arose "out of the earth, an old man covered with a mantle," and God-forsaken Saul fell prostrate before the awful apparition. I heard his voice sepulchral pronounce the dreadful decree, To-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me, and the Lord also shall deliver the hosts of Israel into the hand of the Philistines. Poor Saul! doomed to death, and returning in despair to fight and fall with his sons and all Israel before the sword of Philistia. It was a fearful ride that dark night, for the Philistines were encamped in this very village of Shunem, directly between Gilboa and Endor. He probably kept to the east of Jezreel, crossed the valley below 'Ain Jalûd, and thence over the shoulder of this Jebel ed Dûhy to Endor; but it must have been perilous in the extreme, and nothing could have induced Saul to venture thither but the agony of despair.
This Sulam affords an admirable camp-ground for a large army; Jebel ed Dûhy rising abruptly behind, and the top
11 Sam. xxviii. 13, 14.
21 Sam. xxviii. 4.
DEATH OF SAUL ON GILBOA.
of it commanding a perfect view of the great plain in every direction, so that there could be no surprise, nor could their march be impeded, or their retreat cut off. The fountain, it is true, is not very copious, but there are others toward Fûleh, and in the valley below. On the morning of that disastrous day, the lords of the Philistines passed on by hundreds and by thousands out of this valley of Jezreel, ascended by the city, and joined battle with Israel upon those rough mountains east of it. Israel was beaten and fled, closely pursued by their victorious enemies, and Saul and his sons were surrounded and cut down. "Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon. The beauty of Israel slain upon thy high places; how are the mighty fallen! Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain upon you nor fields of offerings, for there the shields of the mighty were vilely cast away." We have the whole theatre of this bloody battle before us, memorable not only in itself and in its results, but as the occasion of that most touching lamentation of David over Saul and Jonathan.' The victorious Philistines descended to Bethshan, and there fastened the body of Saul to the wall of the city. Sad, sad day to Israel, and doubly sad to David. O Jonathan! slain in thy high places. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant hast thou been unto me. Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!
When I was young, it was the fashion to speak of Gilboa as still suffering the curse of David, and to this day I think of it as a withered wilderness without dew, or rain, or any green thing to relieve its stern desolation. Of course, there is no foundation for such an idea?
Certainly not. In my own personal experience I have had abundant evidence that both dew and rain descend there as copiously as elsewhere. David's poetic imprecation had no more influence upon the mountain, or on the clouds, than had Job's malediction upon the day of his birth; nor were
2 Sam. i. 17-27.
either expected to produce any such malign effects. Similar expressions of profound sorrow or of deep displeasure are common in the East, and are found elsewhere in the Bible. Jeremiah says, Cursed be the day when I was born; let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed,' &c. The thought is natural, and who is there that has not indulged it? The child vents its displeasure upon its rattle; the boy strikes the stone against which he stumbles; the man curses adverse winds, and every senseless thing which annoys him, resists his will, or thwarts his plans.
In regard to these imprecations, and others in the Bible like them, we should remember that they were never intended to act upon the physical and senseless elements of nature; and the same remark applies with equal truth to many of the "burdens" of prophecy. Though announc in figurative terms, which are drawn from natural objects, yet every child knows, or ought to, that such things are not accountable agents. Even the denunciations against cities, such as Tyre, Damascus, Gaza, Askelon, Petra, Babylon, Jerusalem, and many others, must, in general, be restricted to the inhabitants, and not to their habitations. God has no controversy with earth, and rocks, and ruins; nor do I believe that this land of Palestine now lies under any physical curse, which renders it unfruitful or unhealthy. The rains, early, middle, and latter, are sufficiently abundant, and the dews as copious as ever; the fields, also, yield as generous harvests to the careful cultivator as they ever did, or as do any others in the world.
This is perhaps true, and yet I have a "feeling" that it is not the whole truth.
We have not said that it was. It is not the sum total of our own ideas on this subject, and at some other locality we may enlarge upon the matter. Such a place as the vale of Siddim, I suppose, was really burned and blasted by the direct agency of God; and some other spots, once fertile, may now exhibit tokens of the displeasure of the Almighty "for the wickedness of the inhabitants thereof," and as a 'Jer. xx. 14.
warning to the world. And there is a sense in which the whole earth has been smitten with a curse, and, in consequence, produces thorns and thistles instead of wholesome fruits. But the desolation and barrenness of this glorious plain, for example, is in no sense the effect of any physical change in the soil or climate, but is owing entirely to the people who dwell here, and to the Bedawîn who destroy it; and the same is true of Gilboa.
VALLEY OF JEZREEL-TELL HUSN.
This valley of Jezreel seems to expand, and to spread out an immense distance toward the southeast. To which of the tribes did it belong?
Esdraelon and its surrounding hills and vales constituted the portion of Issachar, and yet we learn from the 17th chapter of Joshua that many important cities in and about it were given to Manasseh. Endor, and Bethshan, and Taannach, and Megiddo, and this valley of Jezreel itself, belonged to that tribe, or, rather, were assigned to them, for they do not appear to have got possession of these cities. These "children of Joseph" complained that "all the Canaanites who dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they of Bethshan and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel," and therefore they could not drive them out. This is the earliest mention of Jezreel; and it is interesting to find that this famous valley still retains its original characteristics. Chariots of iron have indeed disappeared, but the inhabitants are eminently impracticable and rebellious; and one can readily believe that when the "jumping chariot" raged through the vale of Jezreel, and down the ghor of Beisan, the children of Joseph found it impossible to expel the inhabitants.
In my walk this morning I noticed an immense tell far down toward the Jordan: has it a name?
It is called Husn, and is the centre of those ruins that mark the site of Bethshan-the Scythopolis of the Greeks -the Beisan of the Arabs.
Indeed! it seems much nearer than that city should be, according to my geography; and it must be uncommonly high, and of gigantic proportions every way.
1 Joshua xvii. 16.
Though it is full three hours distant, and that much out of our line, still, if it were safe, we would spend the night there instead of Jenin, for it is well worth the ride and the time. But the ghor is said to be swarming with wild Bedawîn from beyond Jordan, and therefore we must abandon the idea of going into it.
Since our friends the Arabs will not allow us that pleasure, the next best thing is for you to describe it.
I once came to Beisan direct from Tiberias in a little more than six hours. The itinerary, in brief, runs thus: half an hour to the Baths; one and a half to Kerak, at the outgoing of the Jordan; two hours to El Mansûrah; two and a half to entrance of the Jermuk into the Jordan; three hours to Jisr el Mujameah; and half an hour more to the camp of 'Akil