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I once spent several days encamped on the pebbly beach below Semak, and had ample time to explore the entire southern shore of the lake, as well as the outgoings of the Jordan. The shore is covered with pebbles of flint, jasper, chalcedony, and agate, mixed with several kinds of freshwater shells. The largest is a variety of the unio. The exit of the Jordan is correctly laid down by Captain Lynch, but by no other author that I have seen. The ruins of an ancient bridge partly choke up the exit, and narrow it to about one hundred feet in width at low water, and even then it was not more than four feet deep; the current, however, is very swift. The shore and the river I found crowded with ducks, crane, and other water-fowl in the latter part of February, and, were it safe, it would be a delightful spot for the sportsman and the lover of fish and game. Semak has about two hundred wretched huts, packed in together in the most uncomfortable manner possible. The inhabitants are all Moslems, and of course, or of necessity, confederates in robbery with their neighbors, those Diabs-wolves---whose tents we saw along the base of Tell Tâlib. No wonder the Bedawîn prefer the open country and the canvas coyer to such a congregation of dust, filth, vermin, and every other abomination which men and brutes can make. Nothing would induce me to dwell in such a village. And yet it is situated on the shore of this sweet and beautiful lake, with the most interesting scenery in the world around it. Alas! it is a splendid jewel in a swine's snout.?
The regular path leads directly to the ford below the broken bridge, Em el Kūnâtur, but we will follow the shore to the exit of the Jordan. We have now a good view of the entire lake, and can see at a glance that it narrows rapidly on both sides, until it is not more than three miles wide at this extremity of it. The Jordan leaves it near the southwest corner, and its exit was commanded by those fortified tells on the north side, now called Tells of Kerak. The triangular plat north of them is the site of the ancient Taricea or Tarichea, so famous in the wars of the Jews. A branch
1 Prov. xi. 22.
SHIPS ON LAKE TIBERIAS-GADARA.
of the river once came down on the west side, and, of course, made the site of the city an island; nor would it be difficult to make that again the main outlet of the river, as it probably was in former times. This Kerak was the great naval station of the Jews in the time of the Roman war. Josephus collected two hundred and thirty ships at this place to attack Tiberius, and here occurred the only sea-fight between the Jews and Romans. The ships probably lay at anchor within and around the exit of the Jordan, protected by towers upon these tells. The situation is admirable for the purpose, and there is no other safe harbor on the whole lake. It must, therefore, have been a place of great importance, so long as there were ships to need a refuge from the wild winds which often sweep over it. I have seen it lashed into fury for thirty consecutive hours by a tempest that would have wrecked a hundred fleets such as those of Josephus, had they been exposed to its violence.
How different the condition of these shores now from the time when Josephus could gather at this point more than two hundred ships in a single day! There is not at this hour a boat of any kind upon the lake, and I never but once saw a single sail unfurled upon its deserted bosom. Josephus, however, who lived, and sailed, and fought on it in the time of the apostles, abundantly corroborates their accounts of the ships that then sailed over it, and my own experience confirms all the other phenomena mentioned by them. Small as the lake is, and placid, in general, as a molten mirror, I have repeatedly seen it quiver, and leap, and boil like a caldron, when driven by fierce winds from the eastern mountains, and the waves ran high-high enough to fill or "cover" the ships, as Matthew has it.' In the midst of such a gale “calmly slept the Son of God," in the hinder part of the ship, until awakened by the terrified disciples.
Gadara, with her prostrate temples and theatres, is seated on the top of the mountain south of the great gorge of the Jermuk, and the celebrated hot baths of another Hamath are below on the bank of the river. The fountains are of
* Matt. viii. 24.
immense size, and the entire locality extremely interesting and wild. Until quite recently the Christians of Nazareth held a grand fair at those baths, and they still speak in raptures of the happy times they used to enjoy there, and curse these Arab wolves who now prowl about, and render it utterly impossible to hold their joyous festa.
The great highway from the west into Perea, Decapolis, and the distant east passed the Jordan at this bridge to which we are coming, now called Jisr el Kūnâtur, in reference to the many high arches on which it rested. They appear to have been ten, but are all so broken and choked up with rubbish that one can not be quite certain as to the number. The ford below it would be excellent were it not for the fragments of the bridge which strew the bottom. The river is about three hundred feet broad, and it is not more than three feet deep except in early spring. The only bridge still in repair is Jisr el Mūjamia, about seven miles below the lake. I spent a night and day there last spring with 'Akil ’Aga, and then followed the west bank of the Jordan to this point. The junction of the Jermuk is in a rough, rocky channel, about a mile north of the Mūjamia, and it is also spanned by a strong stone bridge. Farther up the river is a ruined site called Dalhamia or Dalmamia. One could make Dalmanutha out of this word, if the geog. raphy of the New Testament would admit the location here of that place, to which our Lord came on his retum from Cæsarea Philippi (Banias) through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. This journey of our Saviour appears to have been unusually extended and very circuitous. Departing from Tyre and Sidon, he came to this lake, not by the direct route, but, going first to Banias, he then made a circuit through the region of Decapolis, on the east of the lake and the Jordan. Now, if he visited Jerash, Pella, Gadara, and Hippos, he might return by this Dalhamia on his way home, or might come hither by boat, as Mark states. It must be remembered, however, that Matthew says Jesus came into the coasts of Magdala after the very same miracle mention.
| Mark vii. 31.
? Matt. xv. 39.