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ANCIENT CITY-HOT BATHS.
modifications of the word from which Hammam, the name for warm baths, is derived. Tiberias itself may occupy the site of Chinneroth, from which the lake derived its primitive name, as it now gets that of Tiberias from its successor. We throw out these suppositions without vouching for their truth, or attempting to establish it. I can not doubt, however, but that there was a city near Tiberias far older and more splendid than that built by Herod. The granite columns mingled among the now visible ruins must have an antiquity much higher than the first century of our era. I suppose the city of Herod occupied the same situation as the present town, for it is plainly implied in many notices by Josephus that it was at a considerable distance from the hot baths, while these ancient remains extend quite down to them. They can not, therefore, be the ruins of Herod's city, but of one still older than it. Emmaus (alias Hammath) lay chiefly south of the baths, and its walls can be traced out without any doubt or difficulty. But this is quite enough of topography for once.
The water of these springs has a sulphurous and most disagreeable smell, and is so nauseous that it can not be drunk, and is not used internally. The baths, however, have a great medicinal reputation, and their sanitary virtues are believed by the ignorant to be almost adequate to remove all the ills to which frail flesh is heir. The accommodations for bathing are every thing but satisfactory, and the entire establishment is filthy and offensive in the extreme, and yet it is always crowded with the lame, the halt, the withered, and the leprous—a disgusting rabble of greasy Jews and scurvy Arabs. There is but one common bathing cistern, where the water is hot enough to cook an egg, and it is always crowded with naked patients seething and steaming like slaughtered swine in a scalding vat.
What healthy person would dare to bathe in such a cistern, and with such company! How they can endure the water at from 1300 to 1400 of Fahrenheit is a mystery. I once had the bath cleared, and made the experiment, but should have fainted in a very short time if I had not made my escape from it.
Little by little, however, they get used to it, and some delight to roll about in it by the hour, happy as a hippopotamus in the Nile. The temperature of the fountains varies in different
years, and at different seasons of the same year. According to my thermometers, it has ranged, within the last twenty years, from 136° to 144o. I was here in 1833, when Ibrahim Pasha was erecting these buildings, and they appeared quite pretty. The earthquake which destroyed Tiberias in 1837 did no injury to the baths, although the fountains were greatly disturbed, and threw out more water than usual, and of a much higher temperature. This disturbance, however, was only temporary, for when I came here about a month after the earthquake they had settled down into their ordinary condition.
Are these hot springs ever mentioned in the Bible?
The name of the place perhaps is, but the baths themselves are not alluded to either in the Old or the New Testament. There is a curious passage in Gen. xxxvi. 24, which I suspect refers to warm mineral springs and their medicinal virtues. In our translation it reads thus: This was that Anah that found the mules in the wilderness as he fed the asses of Zibeon his father. The Hebrew word yamim, here translated mules, means waters; and the Vulgate and Arabic translations render it warm waters, which ren. dering Jerome and others among the ancients favor, and not a few modern critics agree with them. Of one thing I am well satisfied, that Anah did not find mules, whatever may be the true meaning of yamim. And since such hot fountains exist, not only here, but in Wady Mendhour, below Gadara, and at Callirrhoe, east of the Dead Sea, it is quite possible that Moses may have become acquainted with them when in that region, and also with the fact that Anah had first discovered them, or at least had found out their medicinal virtues, and brought them into public notice. Perhaps some remarkable cures upon Jews of distinction rendered it still farther appropriate for Moses to commemorate the discovery and the discoverer.
March 25th. You should have been out with me on the promontory which overhangs the lake, to see the day break along the eastern mountains. At first it was intensely dark, but by. and-by it began to soften low down and far to the north. Then suddenly the note of a lark rang out, silvery and joy. ous, as if from the very midst of the stars. In rapid succession, bird after bird rose up, hymning their early matin, until the whole "marble vault of heaven" was vocal with invisible choristers. One by one the stars faded out before the growing day, and every moment the scene shifted and changed from bright to brighter—from glory to glory, throwing down dark shadows from the eastern cliffs upon the broad bosom of Gennesaret. At length the first rays of the sun gleamed on the snowy head of Hermon, revealing deep wrinkles, which the storms of a thousand generations have drawn across his stern cold brow. It was the very perfection of this style of beauty, nor do I understand how any one can call it tame. Doubtless time and season, pleasant company, good health, and cheerful spirits add immensely to the effect of such a scene. In the glare and burning heat of midsummer, a weary traveler, with eyes inflamed, might see nothing to admire, but I have never thus visited it. To me Gennesaret and its surroundings are ever fair, and always invested with unparalleled interest. Here our blessed Lord dwelt with men, and taught the way of life. Here he preached in a ship, slept in the storm, walked on the waves, rebuked the winds, and calmed the sea. Here is Magdala, Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida, with its des. ert place, where five thousand hungry souls were fed with miraculous bread; and Gergesa, where devils went from men to swine, and both together into the sea. Here he opened his mouth, and taught, with authority, that divine sermon on the mount; and on one of these solitary summits Moses and Elias, in shining robes, came down from heaven to converse with him in the glory of his transfiguration. And
not least, from this shore he selected those wonderful men who were to erect his kingdom, and carry his Gospel to the ends of the earth. Is there another spot on the globe that can compare with this?
John is the only evangelist who mentions Tiberias; but he not only speaks of the city, but calls the lake. by this name more than once.1 May we not find in this an incidental corroboration of the opinion that his gospel was written last of all, and toward the close of the first century, and for those who by that time had come to know the lake most familiarly by the name of Tiberias?
This supposition becomes the more probable when we remember that it was quite a modern town when our Lord frequented this region, having been built and named by Herod about the time of his advent. Seventy years afterward, Josephus found it an important city, and no other in Galilee is so often mentioned by him. Almost every other city was destroyed by Vespasian and Titus, but this was spared, and rewarded for its adherence to the Romans by being made the capital of the province. John, writing many years after these events, would naturally mention both the city and the lake, and call the latter by its then most familiar name, Ti. berias. But the other apostles wrote before these events had taken place, and therefore do not speak of Tiberias at all.
Is it not somewhat strange that our Saviour never entered Tiberias?
This is not quite certain, for he undoubtedly visited many places which are not mentioned by any of the evangelists; and if the tradition respecting the site of the present old church has any foundation in fact, he did actually enter it, and even after his resurrection. It is my opinion, however, that he never came to Tiberias, and for several reasons, which, by the aid of Josephus, we are able to discover. He tells us that Herod, in order to people his new city, brought many strangers, and people called Galileans, and many not even freemen, but slaves. In short, Herod gathered up all classes, and compelled them to settle in Tiberias. This was John vi. 1; xxi. 1; vi. 23.
? Ant. xviii. 2, 3.