Imatges de pÓgina
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ANTS GREAT ROBBERS-GRANARIES.

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Leave a bushel of wheat in the vicinity of one of their subterranean cities, and in a surprisingly short time the whole commonwealth will be summoned to plunder. A broad black column stretches from the wheat to their hole, and you are startled by the result. As if by magic, every grain seems to be accommodated with legs, and walks off in a hurry along the moving column. The farmers remorselessly set fire to every ant city they find in the neighborhood of their threshing-floors.

Are these Eastern granaries mentioned or alluded to in the Bible ?

The custom is doubtless an ancient one, and it extended from this country through the Carthaginians of North Africa into Spain. They seem to be alluded to by those ten men who said to Ishmael, Slay us not, for we have treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey, and thus they saved their lives from that treacherous Ishmaelite. These cisterns not only preserve the grain and other stores deposited in them from insects and mice, but they are admirably adapted to conceal them from robbers. These ten men had doubtless thus hid their treasures to avoid being plundered in that time of utter lawlessness; and in a similar time I found people storing away grain in cisterns far out in the open country between Aleppo and Hamath, and they told me it was to hide it from the government tax-gatherers. It is quite dangerous to come upon a deserted site full of these open cisterns and wells, especially at night, as I have often found. Frequently they are entirely concealed by the grass, and the path leads right among them. They must always be dug in dry places; generally, as here, on the side of a sloping hill. They would not answer in a wet country, but in these dry climates stores have been found quite fresh and sound many years after they were thus buried. The farmers also resort to various expedients to keep the grain from injury. One of the most common is to mingle quicksilver with oil, or with the white of an egg, and rub it in well with the wheat. This will pre

"Jer. xli. 8.

serve it free from insects of all kinds. Joseph in Egypt must have understood how to preserve grain, at least for seven years; and I suppose that in ancient times, when cities and fortresses were liable to very long sieges, it was of the utmost importance to know the best methods of preserving their stores. Askelon is said to have been besieged twentyeight years, and of course the people must have had immense provisions laid up and well preserved. That this was common is implied in the parable of the rich fool, who built greater store-houses and laid up provisions for many years." If there had been no such store-houses in the land, and the custom of laying up grain for many years was unknown, the terms of the parable would have lacked verisimilitude, a defect in construction which attaches to none of our Lord's sayings.

Are we to suppose that these vast downs have really been formed by sand blown in from the sea-shore? All the way from Cæsarea we have had them, and here they are three miles broad and several hundred feet high.

Yes; and they continue, with only partial interruptions, far down the coast beyond Gaza toward Egypt. But, extensive as they are, they are all the work of the winds and waves, acting in the same manner through countless ages. The gradual encroachment of the sea is slowly wearing away this underlying rock, as we have seen in the strange cliffs along the shore, and the new-made sand is being driven farther and farther inland. If this process goes on long enough, the entire plain will be buried under this slow-creeping desolation. There are many parts of the coast where this has actually been accomplished, and the sea now lashes the perpendicular cliffs of the mountains, and along this valley of Sharon are places where the sandy deluge has reached nearly to the foot of the hills, leaving only a narrow strip of fertile soil between them. These shifting banks greatly perplex the brooks which cross the plain. They are not sufficiently powerful to keep their channels open during summer, and hence they are often dammed up at the mouth,

· Luke xii. 18, 19.

BROOKS IN SHARON-PINE GROVES.

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and form large marshes along the very margin of the sand. We shall encounter one of these a short distance ahead of us. Strong permanent streams like the 'Aujeh maintain their right of passage at all times, and have done so in all ages. The 'Aujeh, in fact, effects an entire break in this line of sand-hills, but, south of Joppa, the weaker and less permanent brooks are constantly shut up during summer, and when swollen by winter rains, flood the country, until they can force open a channel to the sea.

The plain here has evidently been buried deep under this sand long ages ago, precisely as at Beirût, and here are the

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usual pine forests growing upon it. These are the finest specimens we have seen in Palestine, though every sandy ridge of Lebanon and Hermon is clothed with them, and often of a much larger growth. They are not seen on the

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mountains of Palestine, because that peculiar sandy formation is not found there. This tree the Arabs call snubar, and in my opinion it is the Hebrew berosh, concerning which there is so much confusion in the various translations of the Bible. In the English it is generally rendered fir, but many modern critics think that it should be cypress. I, however, suppose that berosh is the generic name for the pine, of which there are several varieties on Lebanon. Cypress is rarely found there, but pine every where, and it is the tree used for beams and rafters. Ers is the distinctive name for the cedar, berosh for the pine. This tree bears a very large and compact cone, from which

is obtained the nut of the market. This cone, when ripe, is gathered by the owners of the forests, and when thoroughly dried on the roof, or thrown for a few minutes into the fire, it separates into many compartments, from each of which drops a smooth white nut, in shape like the seed of the date. The shell is very hard, and within it is the fruit, which is much used in making pillau and other preparations of rice, and also in various kinds of sweetmeats.

In the Arabic Bible, the myrrh, which the Ishmaelites who bought Joseph were carrying into Egypt, is called snubar; and if this is in truth the berosh of the Bible, scarcely any other tree is more frequently mentioned, and this would be in exact correspondence with its actual value.

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CONE OF THE PIXE.

VARIETIES OF PINE-NEHAR FALEJ.

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The variety of pine which we saw on the north of Em Khâlid, and in which the field-sparrows have made their

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nests, is found all over Lebanon, but it never grows tall, and is but little used in building or in the arts; and the same is true of all other kinds in this country, except the stone pine

of this grove.

There is your sand-perplexed brook, with its accompany. ing marsh, I suppose ?

Yes; it is called Nahr Falej—the Palsy River. On the shore near its mouth is Arsûf, and from it the river takes

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