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How melancholy is this utter desolation! Not a house, not a trace of inhabitants, not even shepherds, seen every where else, appear to relieve the dull monotony. I wonder if it was thus when Peter came along from Joppa to Cæsarea?
The coast itself was doubtless what it is now, but the road could not have been so utterly deserted. Cæsarea was then a great capital and a grand commercial emporium, and this now solitary track was crowded with multitudes hastening to the grand centre of business, pleasure, and ambition.
Did Paul travel this route to and from Jerusalem ?
I suppose not. As I said before, the Roman road, even to Joppa, took inland from Cæsarea, and no doubt it united with the great highway which came down by Sindiany, and continued along the plain southward to Lydd, Ramleh, Eleutheropolis, and onward into the desert toward the Red Sea at Akabah. A few miles farther down, a branch took off to the southeast through the mountains to Jerusalem, and we know that Paul was brought down that way by the Roman soldiers, and this was the direct route which he always pursued unless turned aside by some special call. Antipa
ABU ZABURA-RIVER KANAH.
tris lies between Cæsarea and Lydd, and its site, restored to its original name, Kefr Saba, is now well known.
Here we come to what is called Minet Zabûr, or Harbor of Zabûra, and around this small inlet was once a village of some size, as is indicated from the quantity of broken pottery scattered over the surface. This is an infallible sign of an ancient site. If there ever were any but mud hovels here, however, every stone has been carried away, or has dissolved to sand and dust. The River Abû Zabûra enters the sea a short distance ahead of us, but, as this has been a remarkably dry season, we can doubtless cross on the beach, though, when I passed this way in 1833, I had to make a long detour into the interior over these sand-hills, and finally got across with great difficulty. It is celebrated for quicksands and bottomless mud, and it was partly to avoid such impracticable rivers that the Romans carried their highways down the interior, for it was their system never to make a road where they could not construct bridges. I have an idea that this Abû Zabûra is the River Kânâh, which formed the southwestern border between Ephraim and Manasseh. The country on the north of it belonged to Manasseh, that on the south to Ephraim.Dr. Robinson, however, thinks he has identified this river with a wady now called Kanah, west of Nablûs, which, he says, “turns southwest, joins the Aujeh, and so enters the sea near Jaffa.” But I can scarcely believe that the lot of Manasseh reached so far south. The text in Joshua intimates that the border followed the River Kanah to the
have done if this Abû Zabûra is it, but not if the River Kanah became swallowed up in the 'Aujeh. The doctor may possibly have been misled in regard to the final direction of his wady Kanah, for nothing is more eccentric than the course of the streams after they enter these plains. Kitto makes the river of Arsûf, which enters the sea between Em Khâlid and El Haram, to be the Kanah of the Bible, and this is certainly far more probable than that the Aujeh is, but even this seems to carry the border of Manasseh too far south.
Josh. xvii. 9.
We must allow our horses to drink at the ford, for it is a long stretch to the next brook. Here is a shepherd with some cattle to relieve this utter solitude. Hammûd exclaimed, when he saw this wild Arab shepherd, El hamdulillah shûfna ensân- Thank God! we have seen a man. He may be thankful also that the Bedawy is one and that we are many, for every denizen of these wild downs is a robber by profession.
These cliffs, below which we have been trailing our slow and weary march since crossing the Zabûra, are very singular geological specimens-absolutely perpendicular-composed of very thin strata, piled up like dog-eared paste-board in a book-bindery ; not horizontal, but crumpled, twisted, and bulging out in all possible angles and shapes.
Yes, and the same extraordinary formation continues almost to Jaffa. This long line of cliffs is called Durb el Kheît-road of a chord—probably because they stretch in a straight line for so many miles. But our horses are becoming quite exhausted with this deep sand ; let us therefore take out into the country, and pass over these sand-hills to a village called Em Khâlid, forty-five minutes to the southeast of us. There has been a fight there this week between the villagers and the Arabs, as I was told at the mills last night; but we are a strong party, and they will not venture to molest us. There we shall find water, take our lunch, and refresh our weary
horses. What sort of birds are these which make such a noise among the trees and bushes?
They are field-sparrows, and this is the largest congregation of them I have ever seen. The trees and even the shrubs are stuffed full of their nests; and these hawks, which are soaring about seeking whom they may devour, cause all this alarm and hubbub among the sparrows. You remember we saw something like this on the Hûleh, only the birds are ten times more numerous here; in fact, they seem to be without number. They live upon the wild oats which cover these sand-hills as if they had been sown by
Now we have gained the summit, see what a splen
PLAIN OF SHARON-WATERMELONS.
did prospect opens upon the eye. The great plain of Sharon stretches southward quite beyond the range of vision, while the mountains of Manasseh and Ephraim, crowded with villages, picturesquely perched upon their many-shaped declivities, bound the horizon in that direction. Below us, to the southeast, is Em Khâlid, and most welcome to man and beast, for we have been riding five hours, and at a rapid pace.
Twenty-three years ago I arrived at this village from Tantûra, and slept under this identical old sycamore, which the west wind has forced to spread its branches down the hill to the east. How little of the romance of that first journey through Palestine can I now get up, with all the appliances and luxuries of modern travel! Without tent, canteen, or even cook, sleeping under trees, hedges, or rocks, as it happened, I passed from Beirût to the Dead Sea, and back through the interior by Nablûs, Nazareth, and Tiberias. But there was more romance than common sense in the matter, and before that first summer was over I lay on my bed for many weeks, consumed by that low, nervous, Dead Sea fever, which has proved fatal to so many Syrian travelers.
This Em Khâlid is famous for watermelons beyond almost any village in Palestine, and vast quantities are taken by boat to Beirût, and other towns along the coast.
Are these melons the abattachim of Egypt, the remembrance of which augmented the murmurs of the Israelites in the wilderness ?1
In all probability the same. The Arabic name būtteekh is only a variation of the Hebrew, and nothing could be more regretted in the burning desert than these delicious melons, whose exuberant juice is so refreshing to the thirsty pilgrim. It is among the most extraordinary eccentricities of the vegetable kingdom that these melons, so large and so full of water, should flourish best on such soil as this around Em Khâlid. Into this dry sand the vine thrusts its short root, and that in the hottest season of the year. Yet a thou
· Numb. si. 5.
sand boat-loads of this most juicy melon are gathered from these sand-heaps for market every summer. The leaves themselves must have the power of absorbing moisture from the heavy dews of the night. The villagers are telling our people that, for fear of the Arabs, they have not dared to plant their more distant fields this spring, and therefore there will be few of their melons in the city markets, which bit of information has stirred the wrath of the muleteers, and they are pouring maledictions upon them—upon their heads, their eyes, their beards, and every thing else pertaining to them. And really one feels a sort of sympathy with these imprecations. I am conscious of a degree of dislike toward these Bedawîn robbers more intense than I allow toward any other of God's creatures, nor have I any patience with them; but let us leave them before I am startled out of all due decorum. Our lunch over, we must ride steadily and fast, for it is yet more than six hours to Jaffa.
Look well before your horse's head, or you may fall into some of these open-mouthed cisterns. The whole face of the hill is pierced with them.
I see; but what are they for? Not to hold water certainly, for there is no way in which they could be filled.
They are wells or cisterns for grain. In them the farmers store their crops of all kinds after the grain is threshed and winnowed. These cisterns are cool, perfectly dry, and tight. The top is hermetically sealed with plaster, and covered with a deep bed of earth, and thus they keep out rats, mice, and even ants, the latter by no means a contemptible enemy.
By the way, I read lately, in a work of some pretension, that ants do not carry away wheat or barley. This was by way of comment on the word of the wise man, that the “ant gathereth her food in the harvest." What have you to say of the criticism?
That it is nonsense. Tell it to these farmers, and they will laugh in your face. Ants not pilfer from the floor and the granary! They are the greatest robbers in the land.
Prov, vi. 8.