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Title to Physical History i 

Head-i'iece to Introductory Chapter, — Bringing 

First-fruits to Jerusalem ..... ii 

Tail-piece to Introductory Chapter,— Crusaders 

approaching Jerusalem ..... xxvi 

Mountains of Gilead, from Laborde's ' Voyage 

en Orient' ....... xxvii 

Distant View of Lebanon, from Cassas' ' Voyage 

Pittoresque,' &c. ...... xxxiii 

Mount Tabor, from ditto ..... xxxv 

Mountains of Galilee and Samaria, from do. . xxxvii 

Mountains of Seir, from Laborde's ' Arabia' . . xlii 

Mount Hor, from Laborde .... xliv 

Mountains of El Tyh, with the Rock of the 

Pilgrims, from Laborde .... xlvi 

View of Sinai, from ditto ..... xlvii 

Summit of Mount Sinai, from ditto . . . xlix 

Mount Serbal, from ditto ..... liii 

Wady Mokatteb, from ditto .... liv 

Mount Carmel, from Maundrell's ' Travels' . lvii 
Rock of Moses, from a Drawing by F. Arundale, 

Esq. ........ lviii 

L'ipides Judaici, from Cornelius de Bruyn . . lxvi 

Petrified Fish, embedded, from ditto . . . lxviii 
Hot Springs and Ruined Bath, near the Hiero- 

max, from Buckingham's ' Travels' . . lxxv 

Plain of Jericho, from a Sketch by Mr. Arundale xcix 

B:\albec, from ditto ...... cvi 

Valley of Shechem, with Mounts Ebal and 

Gerizim, from Laborde ..... cxviii 
Jacob's Bridge, on the Jordan, from Baron 

Taylor's 'La Syrie' ..... cxxxiii 

View in the Land of Moab, from Buckingham . cxxxv 

Sand Storm cxiv 

Plain of Acre, from a Drawing by Mr. Arundale cli 

The River Jordan, from ditto . . . . clii 
Supposed source of the Jordan, from Burckhardt's 

' Syria'. cliv 

Lake and Town of Tiberias .... clxiii 
The Jordan issuing from the L ike, from ' A 

Diary,' &c., by a Field Officer, 1823 . . clxviii 

The Dead Sea, from a Drawing by Mr. Arundale clxxiv 
Southern Termination of the Dead Sea, from 

Irby and Mangles' ' Travels,' &c. . . . clxxxviii 

Pool of Siloam, from a Drawing by Mr. Arundale cxcvi 

Pools of Solomon, from ditto .... cxcix 
Terrace Cultivation, from the ' Jewish Expositor,' 

1824 cciv 

Almond-tree ....... ccxii 

Orange-tree ....... ccxii 

Fruit-baskets, Ancient and Modern Egyptian . ccxiii 

Cactus Ficus Indicus ccxxii 

Cypress ccxxiv 

Date Palm ccxxv 

Doum Palm ccxxvi 

Carob-tree ccxxvii 


44. Fig-tree 

45. Oleaster 

46. Oleander ...... 

47. White Mulberry .... 

48. Pistachio, Terebinthus 

49. Cistus Rosens 

50. Arbutus Andrachne 

51. Holy Bramble .... 

52. Quercus Valonidi .... 

53. Plane-tree 

54. Juniper. ..... 

55. Sinapis Oricntalis .... 

56. Ears of Wheat (English, Asia Minor 

Heshbon), from Irby and Mangles' 
vels,' &c, and Fellowes's ' Asia Minor' . 

57. Carrying Corn, from Egyptian Sculptures, 

engraved in ' L'Egypte, Antiquites' 

58. Threshing with Animals, Modern Oriental, 

from Pallas .... . . 

59. Threshing with the Drag, from Laborde's 

* Syrie' 

60. Threshing-drag of Syria and Asia Minor, from 

Fellowes's ' Asia Minor' . 

61. Threshing with the Sledge, from * L'Egypte — 

Etat Moderne' ..... 

62. Sea Goose Foot 

63. Arabian Jasmine ...... 

64. Tamarisk ....... 

65. Sulanum Sodumeum ..... 

66. Lawsonia lnermis ...... 

67. Rose of Jericho ...... 

68. Coloquintida ...... 

69. Cucumis Prophetarum ..... 

70. Irrigation with Pails, from Ancient Egyptian 

Sculptures, engraved in Wilkinson's 'An- 
cient Egyptians' 

71. Yoke and Strap, from Wilkinson . . 

72. Irrigation by the " Ckutweh," from ' L'Egypte' . 

73. Ancient Egyptian "Shadoofs," from Rosel- 

lini ....... 

74. Modern Oriental " Shadoofs," from * L'Egypte 

— Etat Moderne' 

75. The " Sackiyeh, " or Persian Wheel, 

ditto ...... 

76. String of Buckets, for raising Water, 


77- The " Taboot, " for raising Water, 


78. Oriental Garden, from ditto .... 

79. Part of an Ancient Egyptian Garden, from a 

Painting in the British Museum 

80. Egyptian Tank with Trees, from Wilkinson . 

81. Olive-tree 

82. Olive-branch with Fruit ' . 

83. Cedars of Lebanon, from Laborde's ' Syria' . 

84. Sycamore Fig-tree 

























































Maize . 

Rice . 

Lentiles .... 

Chick- Pea .... 

Sesamum Orientate 

Ricinus Communis 

Indigo Harvest 

Pistaclrio-tree . . 

Vine Arbour 

Palestine Grapes, from Laborde 

Egyptian Wine-press, from" Ancient Egyptian 

Paintings in Rosellini . , 
Ditto ditto. 

Ditto ditto 

Wine poured into Jars, from ditto 
Ancient Egyptian Vessels, closed and sealed 

from ditto 

Wine Jars in Store-room, from ditto . 
Roman Wine-cart, from a picture discovers 

in Pompeii 

Manner of carrying Amphora, from a Roman 

Sculpture . 
Skin Bottle, from a Painting at Herculaneum 
Kids browsing on Vines, from Egyptian 

Sculptures engraved in Wilkinson . 
Hoeing the ground, from Egyptian Sculptures 

engraved in ' L'Egypte — Antiquites' 
Plough, drawn by Men, 
Plough, draw by Oxen, 
Ditto ditto 

Ring-handled Plough, 
Two-handled Plough, 
Horned Plough, 
Modern Egyptian Plough, from ' L'Egypte — 

Etat Moderne' ..... 

Various parts of ditto, from Fellowes's ' Asia 

Minor' ....... 

Cotton-plant ...... 

Treatment of Trees by the Ancient Egyptians, 

from Wilkinson 

Collecting Dung for Fuel, from ' L'Egypte 

— Etat Moderne' . 

Camels, from Laborde's 'Voyage en Orient'. 
Syrian Bear, from Hemprich and Ehrenberg. 
Street or Bazaar Dogs, from Laborde . . 
Dogs of Ancient Egypt, from Ancient Egypt- 
ian Paintings, engraved in Wilkinson . 
Roman House-dog, from Pompeii 
Ancieut Egyptian Hunt, from Wilkinson 
Carrying Home Game, with Coupled Hounds, 

from ditto 

ditto ditto 

ditto ditto 


ditto ditto 

ditto ditto 

ditto ditto 










































cccxxxi v 















































Carrying Home Live Game, from Rosellini 
Greyhound of Arabia Petrsea, from a Draw 

ing by Col. C. Hamilton Smith 
Turkman Watch -dog, from ditto . . 
Jackals ...... 

Syrian Fox, from a Drawing by Col. Smith 
Hyena, Wolf, and Greyhound, from Egyptian 

paintings, engraved in Wilkinson . 
Lion of Arabia and Persia . 
Syrian Leopard, Hemprich and Ehrenberg 
Caracal, or Persian Lynx . 
Short-tailed Field Mouse, from Pennant 
Dormouse ...... 

Egyptian Jerboa, Hemprich and Ehrenberg 
Hamster ...... 

Porcupine ...... 

Hare, from ' L'Egypte' 

The Wabber, {Hyrax Syriacus) Hemprich 

and Ehrenberg 
Syrian Wild Ass, from a Drawing by Col. C 

Hamilton Smith 
Saddled Mule, from Lane's ' Arabian Nights 
Dromedary, from Wellsted's ' Travels' 
Gazelles, from Laborde . . . 

Gazelle caught with Lasso, from Wilkinson 
Horned Animals, from Egyptian Monuments 

in Rosellini .... 

Ditto ditto ditto 

Syrian Long-eared Goat, Hemprich and 

Ehrenberg .... 
Kebsch (Oois Tragelaphus) . 
Fat-tailed Sheep, from ' L'Egypte,' 
Oxen, from Ancient Egyptian Specimens 

in Wilkinson and Rosellini 
, Wild Ox taken in a noose, ditto 
Aquiline Vulture (Vultur percnopterus), from 

' L'Egypte' 

Eagle (Aquila Heliaca 

Osprey . 




Pelican . ■ . 


Stork . ... 


Katta (Tetrao al Chata) 

Collared Turtle . 


Chameleon . 



Gazelles and Hares 

from ditto 





ccclx vi 









































Sources of Information 







Geology and Mineralogy 



Volcanic Indications and Earthquakes . 


Valleys, Plains, and Deserts 


Lakes and Rivers 




• a 



History of the Months 
Appendix to ditto 




• • 




Page clxi, sixth line from bottom, for Szaffiid read Szaffad. 

,, elxvi and clxvii are improperly printed cxlvi and cxlvii. 

„ cxciii, twenty-third line from top,/w Breidanbach read Breidenbach. 

,, ccxli, foot-note R ,for delphinum read delphinium. 

„ ccli, „ c , for pataocarpa read pterocarpa. 

,, cclxviii „ *tfor buphthalum read buphthalmum. 

,, cclxix, in the name of cut and note ', for Jasmimum read Jasminum. 

„ cclxx, foot-note °,for buphthalsum read buphthalmum. 

„ cclxxxvi, nineteenth line from bottom, for Beyraut read Beyrouk. 

,, ccclxxi, foot-note a , for 146 read 147, and for 279 read 299 

" » »» h >f" r A.& read $.[3 

,, ccclxxxiii is erroneously numbered ccclxxxii. 

,, ccccv, foot-note A ,for phaenicopteru9 read phcenicopterus. 

„ ccccvi, ,, P, for Rallas read Rallus. 

,, ccccxii, „ c , for cuprimulgus read caprimulgus. 





[Bringing First Fruits to Jerusalem.] 

In commencing this portion of our undertaking, we feel it to be one of much interest and very 
considerable difficulty. Its peculiar interest arises chiefly from the frequent allusions which 
are made by the sacred writers to the physical characteristics and natural products of Palestine. 
These allusions do not, in general, so much afford information, as require information in 
the reader — such information as the inhabitants of the country possessed, and the want of 
which renders many of the passages which afford such references difficult to understand, or 
particularly liable to be misunderstood. For, first, the amount of the practical information 
which might be obtained from the Bible itself is very considerably lessened by the uncertainty 
which often attends the results of the most laborious or ingenious attempts to determine the 
species of plants or animals which the Hebrew names denote; and then, our information 
concerning the natural history of Modern Palestine is meagre and unsatisfactory, to a degree 
which seems astonishing, when we consider that there is no Asiatic country to which there has 

b 2 


been such large resort of travellers, in all ages, from all parts of Christendom ; and that there 
is not a country on earth concerning which so many books have been written. But those 
travellers have been, for the most part, guided by such religious or historical associations as 
led them to fill their books with descriptions of ruined towns and remarkable places, unmindful 
that, properly understood, the physical condition of the country, its animal inhabitants, and its 
vegetable products, furnish a class of Scriptural associations not less interesting than any which 
even Palestine can offer. But to enjoy these associations, and to be animated by them, re- 
quired a more intimate knowledge of the Scriptures than most ancient pilgrims and modern 
travellers have possessed. The utmost that can be obtained from these sources are rare and 
incidental intimations that such an animal was seen in some particular locality, or that such 
a plant was found in another. The collection of all such notices that exist might furnish a 
mass of valuable contributions towards a natural history of Palestine. But to wade through 
innumerable volumes, in many different languages, to be rarely rewarded with a contributory 
fact, is a work of such time and labour as none have been willing to undertake ; and therefore 
no such history is yet in existence. 

There are indeed many Natural Histories of the Bible, the value of which cannot be too 
highly estimated. They notice all the various natural products, or particular classes of the 
products, mentioned in the Scriptures : but, since it cannot be imagined that the allusions of 
the sacred writers refer to all, or to more than a considerable proportion, of the natural 
products of their countries, such works cannot be regarded as natural histories of Palestine, 
nor do they indeed profess to be such. The Natural Histories of the Bible form, indeed, a 
class by themselves, having less connection than any other with the science of nature. They 
are rather works of criticism than of natural history — rather the productions of philologists 
than of natural historians. Whatever learning could do on such subjects has been done ; and 
whatever might be done by science, observation, and well-directed research has been left 
undone. The process usually taken, in works of this class, has been to exhaust the resources 
of philology and conjecture, in the attempt to discover the meaning of the Hebrew name, and 
the object denoted by it. We have already stated that, from the very nature of the thing, 
the conclusion arrived at is often unsatisfactory or uncertain. But, a conclusion being taken, 
the ancient writers of Greece and Rome are ransacked to supply the history and description 
of the object; and, in particular, to furnish such intimations as might coincide with or 
illustrate those of the sacred writers. All this was very proper ; but the value of the inform- 
ation thus collected, as contributory to a Natural History of Palestine, might have been very 
greatly enhanced had corroborations and elucidations been sought in the actual condition of 
the country, and the character of its products in the various departments of nature. But 
this, as we have already shown, would have been a most arduous labour, attended with many 
disappointments, and has not been executed. 

At the very head of the class of writers whose works we have endeavoured to characterise, 
and, perhaps, the sole original writer on the zoology of the Scriptures which that class con- 
tains, stands the eminent name of Samuel Bochart, whose profound learning and prodigious 
reading enabled him, in his great work, the ' Hierozoiconf* at once to originate and exhaust 
his subject, under the mode of treatment which we have described. To this work all sub- 
sequent writers on the subject, in their various languages, have been deeply indebted; and 
most of them have been satisfied to repeat its conclusions and statements, under forms 
variously modified and condensed. The immense erudition which Bochart brought to bear 
on every subject he touched made it appear presumptuous to inquire where he had decided ; 
and hence the mere fancies and conjectures, with which he too often supplied the absence of 
facts, and his forced etymologies and doubtful conclusions, have been as implicitly adopted 
by later writers as any other parts of his extraordinary performance. It thus remains that 
Bochart is the only great name connected with the zoology of the Bible. (') b 

a Samuelis Bocharti Hierozoicon, sive de Animalibus S. Scripturae : recensuit suis Notis adjectis E. F. C. Rosenmiiller. Lips. 
1793. 3 torais, 4to. 

•> We take this opportunity of explaining that where a small figure is thus iutroduced in the text, it refers to a note or sup- 
plementary explanation or statement to be found at the end of the chapter. References, and such small notes and elucidations 
as the text may require, will be disposed of in the usual way, at the foot of the page. 


But the botany of the Scriptures has offered a subject to more than one original writer • 
yet not one of them has in this branch of inquiry attained an eminence comparable to that 
which Bochart reached in another. Their works are comparatively of small extent ; nor did 
any of them, like the author of the ' Hierozoicon? so exhaust their subject as to preclude suc- 
cessors and competitors. The principle on which they proceeded was essentially the same as 
his; but while none excelled and scarcely any equalled him in learning, not one, except 
Celsius, approached him in that vast and ready erudition which enabled him so profusely 
and variously to support his views by facts and illustrations from the classical and oriental 
writers. Another disadvantage under which Biblical botanists have laboured has been, that it 
is still more difficult to identify the plants than even the animals mentioned in Scripture : so 
that in this department, even more than in the zoology of the Bible, the reader is perplexed 
or left unsatisfied by abundance of unsupported conjecture, and by conclusions unwarranted 
by the premises on which they are founded. 

Although the botany of the Bible had not been previously overlooked entirely, the first 
name of any note in this line of inquiry is that of John Henry Ursinus, whose ' Arboretum 
Biblicum ' a appeared the year before (1663) the first edition of the ' Hierozoicon ' of Bochart. 
Under the reservation we have stated in reference to the class, this is a learned and useful 
work ; which character applies also, though in a less degree, to the botanical tracts which 
form about one-half of a second volume in the edition of 1685. These are, ' Sacra Phyto- 
logia, ,h ' Herbarius Sacer,' and ' Hortus Aromaticus.'' The first is the most fanciful, and the 
second is now the most useful. 

The next Biblical botanist of note is Matthew Hiller, who died (H25) a few months before 
his able and judicious work, the ' Hierophyticon, ,c appeared. This work assumes the form 
of a commentary on those passages of Scripture in which plants are mentioned. We regard 
with much satisfaction one short supplementary chapter of this work (chap, xl.), in which the 
author collects, from various sources, notices of plants actually growing in Palestine. The list 
is meagre, and the authorities consulted very few. But it suffices to show that Hiller was sen- 
sible of the value of such information ; and if he had extended his researches in this direc- 
tion, and allowed the results to influence and guide his larger investigations, he might have 
produced such a work on Scriptural botany as is still a desideratum in Biblical literature. 

But the most distinguished name in this branch of Biblical illustration is undoubtedly that 
of Olaus Celsius.* 1 This distinguished man — whose name may be best known to general 
readers as that of the patron of Linnaeus — appears to us to have treated the branch of 
inquiry which engaged his attention in a more judicious spirit than had been exhibited in any 
previous work on any part of the natural history of the Bible. From this we do not except 
the ' Hierozoicon ;' and if the name of Celsius is less eminent than that of Bochart, it can only 
be from the more limited range of his inquiries, and the comparatively small size of the work 
which resulted from them. Celsius — while he equalled any of his predecessors in acquaintance 
with the materials of illustration which the languages of Greece and Rome supplied, and 
was exceeded by none in the ready use of the certainly not less valuable information derivable 
from oriental sources — excelled them all in the intimate knowledge of living nature, whereby 
he was enabled to identify, with unusual confidence and success, many of the subjects of 
botany mentioned in ancient writings. He had, moreover, travelled in the East, and was so 
fully impressed with the importance of the positive facts which only travellers in Palestine 
could supply, for the elucidation of the natural history of that country, that, although he 
leans much towards that learned mode of investigation which we have already characterised, 
he gave very unwonted prominence and weight to the facts of this class with which his tolerably 
extensive reading in books of travel in Palestine had made him acquainted. This combination 

a Jo. Henr. Ursini Arboretum Biblicum, in quo Arbores et Frutices passim in S. Literis occurrentes, Notis Philologicis, Philo- 
sophicis, Theologicis, exponuntur et illustrantur. Norimb. 1685, 12mo. This title well expresses the general character of such 
works. The second work or volume, the tracts contained in which are separately noticed in the text, bears the collective title of 
* Historian Plantarum Biblicae.' 

b He explains his meaning: ' Sacra Phytologia est descriptio historico — theologica Stirpium Biblicarum ad laudem Creatoris.' 

c ' Hierophyticon, sive Commentarius in Loca Scriptural Sacrae, qua? Plantarum faciiuit Mentionem.' Trajecti ad Rhenum, 1725, 4to. 

d Olavi Celsii Hierobotanicon, sive de Plantis S. Scripturae, Dissertationes Breves. Amstel., 1748. 


of valuable qualities placed the book of Celsius at the very head of its class, and even now 
renders it most valuable, not less to the scientific botanist than to the student of the Scriptures. 

There is an immense work, the ' Physica Sacra ' a of Scheuchzer (f) in eight folio volumes, 
enriched by *750 engravings, executed by the first designers and engravers of the day, the 
costly character of which renders it of difficult access, and scarcely to be seen but in great 
public libraries. This would seem to throw into the shade all the works we have mentioned. 
But, although it discusses, and gives a picture of, every matter which can, by any construction, 
however violent, be forced into a natural history of the Scriptures, it is in reality a very inferior 
performance, and exhibits so little of judgment, either in the text or plates, and is so lacking 
in original value (except perhaps in the portions which treat of reptiles and insects), that 
scarcely any writer refers to it as an authority, although the circumstance, that some of the 
plates represent subjects not elsewhere engraved, gives the work a certain value to the general 

The above works in zoology and botany are the stock books from which have been derived 
the substance of the materials which form the current Natural Histories of the Bible. 

And here we may notice two English writers who, although they did not themselves compose 
Natural Histories of the Bible, have exerted, at least in this country and America, a very salu- 
tary influence upon such of these histories as have since their time appeared. These are 
Harmer and Charles Taylor. The former, in his ' Observations on Various Passages of Scrip- 
ture,' started and pursued the idea that many passages in the Bible — an Oriental book — might 
be explained and illustrated solely from the works of travellers in the East. The ingenuity and 
success with which Harmer applied this principle of explanation recommended it to general 
attention ; and it is not too much to say that, through his own labours, and the more extended 
application of the principle by others, the Bible is now much better understood than it has 
been at any time since its authority has been received in distant countries, and rejected in that 
country where it originated. As it has been the object of Harmer and his followers mainly to 
illustrate the customs mentioned or alluded to in Scripture, questions of natural history did not 
obtain a principal, or even a large portion of their attention ; and hence the chief value of 
their labours is to be sought in the principle on which they proceeded, rather than in the 
actual results of their researches. 

Of the various writers who have walked in the path which Harmer may be said to have 
opened, not one has done so much for the natural history of Scripture, whether in extent, 
or scientific arrangement, as Mr. Charles Taylor in his ' Fragments,' appended to his edition 
of Calmet's 'Dictionary of the Bible. '( 3 ) These 'Fragments' embrace a large variety of 
subjects for the illustration of Scripture, all of them discussed with unusual ingenuity and 
acuteness, and forming altogether a very interesting collection of facts, and of reasonings 
upon them. It must, however, be admitted that a great proportion of the facts bear very 
little reference to the purpose for which they are adduced, and that the conclusions from 
them are often not to be received without considerable caution. The exuberant fancy of 
Mr. Taylor led him to find points of illustration in remote analogies with which cooler minds 
cannot be satisfied, and to build elaborate and often beautiful hypotheses upon foundations far 
too frail to sustain the superstructure. These observations apply with full force to several of 
the ' Fragments,' which discuss disputed points of Scripture natural history ; and it is not in 
these that Taylor's chief service in this department of Scriptural illustration is to be sought, 
but rather in his ' Expository Index referring to Subjects of Science in the Order of the Sacred 
Books,' and in his ' Attempt to arrange in a Systematic Order the Natural History of the 
Sacred Scripture.' These contain short remarks on most of the subjects of natural history 
mentioned in the Bible ; and they are most truly valuable, although they partake largely in 
the common faults — that the identifications of existing animals and products with those men- 
tioned in Scripture are often precarious and uncertain, and that, in the search for the ancient 
products of Palestine, its existing products have not received sufficient attention, so that 

a ' Physica Sacra, hoc est, Historia Naturalis Bibliae.' August. Vindel. 1731 — 1735. 4 vols, folio. A German edition appeared 
simultaneously, and translations in French and Dutch soon after the completion of the work. It is sometimes done up in six or 
even eight volumes. The author was a Swiss physician, who died before the publication of the work was completed. 


illustrations have been sought in countries too remote, and too different in climate and 
situation, to offer satisfactory results. It is indeed surprising, to those who carefully consider 
this and other works of the same description, how few of the species enumerated and described 
have been ascertained to exist in Palestine. 

A Natural History of the Bible forms a considerable portion of a larger work by the Rev. 
Professor Paxton, first published, in 1819, in two octavo volumes, and enlarged to three in 
the second edition of 1825. It is entitled ' Illustrations of Scripture,' and, in the main, 
is a useful and able digest, under distinct heads, of information previously collected by others. 
This work has no original merit beyond that of arrangement and analysis : for, although the 
author's reading enabled him to adduce some new facts in illustration of ' Manners and Cus- 
toms,' the 'Geography' is almost wholly from Bochart's ' Phaleg;' and in the 'Natural History' 
the zoological articles are chiefly drawn from the same author's i Hierozoicon,' > and the botanical 
from Calmet's Dictionary and Taylor's ' Expository Index.' This part of the work, indeed, 
only professes to notice the subjects of natural history which are prominently mentioned in 
the Holy Scriptures. 

But the praise of producing the very best work which the English language possesses on 
the general subject is due to an American, Dr. Thaddeus Mason Harris, whose very able little 
work, the ' Natural History of the Bible,' has become no less popular in this country than 
in the United States. The great merit of this book is the clear and satisfactory manner in 
which it condenses the large masses of facts and reasonings which had gradually accumu- 
lated on the various subjects on which it treats, and in the judgment with which conflicting 
alternatives are balanced, and a position chosen. Yet this excellent judgment being frequently 
exercised upon imperfect and unsatisfactory materials, the result of the most careful deter- 
mination is very often inconclusive. The judicious author, having the results of all previous 
inquiry before him, could not fail to make a better book than any of his predecessors. He has 
condensed their merits, but has not entirely escaped their defects, — which we have already 
described as arising from a want of sufficient inquiry into the actual zoology and botany of 
Palestine. It is so far from true that " he has exhausted all the learning of naturalists and 
travellers ," a that in his list of authorities (fifty-one works by forty-two authors) the names of 
only three actual travellers in Palestine occur ; these being, Rauwolff, Hasselquist, and Shaw. 
" The learning of naturalists and travellers " is a very remarkable expression ; and it is most 
true that the authors of Natural Histories of the Bible have, more than any others, habitually 
forgotten that natural history is eminently a practical science — a science of observation ; 
although, in the natural history of such a country as Palestine, philological learning may 
doubtless be of much service, in guiding some of the naturalist's researches, and in assisting 
some of his conclusions. 

Having thus characterised the labours of the principal writers on the Natural History of the 
Bible, it remains to inquire what has been done to illustrate the actual natural history of 
Palestine. We have already stated that almost nothing has been formally effected in this 
matter ; and hence the question is rather, what materials for such a history lie dispersed and 
uncollected in the mass of European literature ? — and this may be still further narrowed to the 
question, what travellers afford the most ample notices of the produce of the country ? 

The greater number of the older travellers in Palestine were led thither principally or solely 
by religious motives — being in fact monks and pilgrims, who diligently sought out, and amply 
described, every spot which was accounted sacred, and who had eyes and hearts for nothing 
else ; and, by minute accounts of that which they had witnessed of this description, to edify 
and instruct those pious persons who were unable to make similar pilgrimages, was deemed by 
them the highest honour to which they could aspire, and the most useful service which they 
could render to their country. Such accounts are far more numerous than is usually imagined, 
and have for centuries quite exhausted a subject on which, nevertheless, a new book still appears 
almost every year. Before the happy idea was discovered, that books of travel containing pre- 

a ' North American review,' vol. x. p. 92. 


cisely the same substantive facts as had already been supplied, times without number, might 
be made to read differently by minute accounts of the traveller's own reflections and personal 
adventures, — before this, the wearisome sameness of the books on the Holy Land, numerous 
as they were, is inconceivable from any examples now offered to our notice. The route was in 
nearly all cases the same — the places visited and the objects noticed the same — and the 
accounts of the same things and places were given in as nearly the same form as well 
could be. 

The earliest itineraries and descriptions were in general very commendably brief; and their 
notices of places have a considerable topographical value, from the materials of comparison 
which they afford, and from the means of identifying doubtful sites which they sometimes 
supply. But here their use to the present age is at an end. Several of the earliest accounts 
— that is, those of the ages prior to the Crusades, have been committed to the press by different 
editors; several in the Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists and of Mabillon. As none of 
them offer any contributions to the physical history of Palestine, it is not needful that they 
should in this place receive any further notice. 

The Crusades contributed to give the people of Europe a degree of knowledge concerning 
Palestine, which never existed before, and has not existed since. The letters of the Crusaders 
to their friends in Europe was one important contribution; while the numbers of warriors 
and pilgrims who returned to their homes supplied the hearth of the peasant and the shop 
of the artificer, not less than the hall of the noble, with a living witness and describer, 
whose accounts of his doings, his marches, his drink, his food, and his manner of life while 
in the Holy Land, could not fail to include much information regarding the natural condition 
and characteristics of the country. This also must have been true of the accounts of public 
transactions, private enterprises, and military operations which were constantly arriving ; while 
the tales and metrical romances founded thereon could not but in some degree contribute to 
the same result. Indeed, during this age, accounts of the holy " stations," as they were 
called, by pilgrims or monks, gave place to accounts of the progress of the " holy war," or 
of the more marked episodes which it offered; and although the writers did not formally 
profess to describe the country, their statements incidentally furnish more information con- 
tributory to its physical history than had previously been supplied in any form. They do not 
indeed often descend to notice particular products ; but the notices of the natural aspect of 
the country, its seasons, and its physical phenomena in such works as the History of William 
of Tyre, and some of the other pieces in the ' Gesta Dei per Francos ' have a value which has 
not been duly estimated. One of the writers of this class and age, James de Vitry, who was 
Bishop of Cesarea (Accon) in Palestine, in the early part of the thirteenth century, does indeed, 
in his ' Historia Orientalis, sive Hierosolymitance? give a formal description of the condition 
of the country, topographical, physical, moral, and religious. The few short chapters on 
natural history are not very satisfactory or of much importance, nor is their range confined to 
Palestine ; but they are interesting as an instance of attention to a class of subjects which had 
been generally overlooked. 

To about the middle of the same century belongs the very valuable work of Brocard, a a 
German monk, who spent several years in the Holy Land. He resided principally at Acre, 
from whence he made excursions in all directions. The topographical value of his work is 
very great, as he saw many towns and villages which have since disappeared, and visited many 
places to which, until lately, it has been impossible to penetrate. Hence this book was the 
main stay, after the ' Onomasticon ' of Eusebius and Jerome, of the great Biblical topographers 
of the 18th century ; and Le Clerc even printed it entire at the end of his edition of the work 
just named. He was a good general observer ; and sometimes describes, with so much exact- 
itude and clearness, plants which were strange to him, that they are readily recognised by the 
botanist, though he does not indicate their names. 

a ' Brocardi Monaehi Ordiuis Praedicatorum, Descriptio Terrae Sanctae.' Basil, 1555. In biographical accounts he is often con- 
founded with a Dominican monk of the same name, who lived ten years in the convent of Mount Sion, and hence obtained the 
surname of Brocardus de Monte Sion. Even the ' Biographie Universelle ' makes this mistake. But they were different per- 
sons; and our Brocard dedicates his book to the other. 


The observations which have been already made, on the general character of the works in 
Palestine, must be understood to extend down to the latter end of the seventeenth century. 
They were of what we may call the Pilgrim class of travellers, and the notice which we have 
taken of them is intended to apply to this extended period. After the Crusades, however, the 
accounts of the same things became gradually more ample than they had been, and some 
ingenious persons having introduced the plan of inserting, in their accounts of the several 
pilgrim " stations," the regular prayers which the Catholic Church had appropriated to these 
stations, the practice became so largely followed, that for a long time a book without such 
appendages was of rare occurrence. This was certainly the principal improvement which 
the mass of books received, until the practice for travellers to furnish their accounts in their 
own language, instead of the Latin, by increasing the number of authors and the size of books, 
encouraged the development of distinguishing characteristics, while the same general tone and 
spirit were preserved. 

Such works as that which relates the journey to Jerusalem of Anne Cheron, in her eightieth 
year, a demonstrate that even late in the seventeenth century the spirit of pilgrimage still 
glowed with an ardour which weakness could not discourage or old age chill ; and, in the 
same age, the favour with which Boucher's ' Holy Nosegay ' ( 4 ) was received furnished an 
intelligible intimation that there were still many hearts on which the most absurdly fanciful 
emanations of that spirit might operate. 

We have now to pass over the wide field which lies before us, in order to point out the 
works which, among a multitude, appear to furnish some facts towards a physical History of 

Our attention is, in the first place, agreeably arrested by the imposing expedition of Brey- 
denbach in 1483. With eleven distinguished compatriots, — two friars, skilled in various 
languages ; a Transylvanian archdeacon ; Felix Faber, a Dominican, who had already been in 
the Holy Land, and appears to have been engaged as secretary ; b and Edward Rewick, a 
painter of some ability ; with a great number of domestics, — the travelling party formed a 
large caravan. Notwithstanding this promising array, the object of the company was really 
pilgrimage rather than research ; and many such goodly companies of wealthy pilgrims did 
that age send forth. The party was formed at Mayence, and proceeded to Venice, where it 
embarked for Palestine. The pilgrims arrived at Jerusalem in July ; and after having spent 
nearly six weeks in visiting all that was remarkable in the city and its environs to the Jordan, 
the mitigation of the extreme summer heat allowed them, on the 24th of August, to commence 
their journey across the desert, by Gaza, to Mount Sinai. From thence they returned along 
the borders of the Gulf of Suez and passed into Egypt ; and, after some stay at Cairo, fol- 
lowed the course of the Nile to Rosetta, where they re-embarked for Venice on November 15, 
but did not arrive at that city till the 8th of January, 1484. We have traced the course 
of this journey, because it was that which was in that age usually taken by those who extended 
their pilgrimages to Mount Sinai ; but sometimes, indeed, in the reverse order, the journey 
being commenced in Egypt, at Alexandria or Rosetta, and terminated at Joppa. The book 
which was published in 1486 by Breydenbach, c was not only one of the very first books 
of travels submitted to the new invention of printing, but was for a long time the best on its 
subject which Europe possessed. The aspect of the country was described with care ; the more 
strange of its animal and vegetable products were duly noticed ; and, the ground being then 
comparatively new, the characteristics of the desert between Palestine and Sinai, of the moun- 
tains of Horeb and Sinai, and of the country between them and Cairo, were noted with atten- 
tion and well described. This book may, upon the whole, be regarded as one of the most 
respectable and judicious productions of its age, and, as compared with others, it supports the 
character of a work in the production of which several able travellers co-operated. 

* ' Relation du Voyage d'Anne Cheron, agee do quatre-vingts ans, a Jerusalem.' Paris, 1671, 

b An account of Faber's previous journey is in existence; and the German copy of the account of this other journey bears his 
name. It is very likely that this monk, who knew the Holy Land better than any of the party, wrote the account which goes 
under the name of Braydenbach, the leader of the expedition. 

c ' Beruh. de Breydenbach Opus transmarine Peregrinationis ad veneraudn et gloriosum Sepulchru dominicu in .TherusalE. 
Mogunt., 1486, 



This work at once took the first rank in its class. It was translated into most European 
languages, and remained for a long time the standard book, from which smaller travellers 
supplied their own deficiencies freely. Its wealth sufficed to enrich scores of them. It had 
scarcely appeared, before Nicole le Huen, who was about to publish a small history of the 
Crusades, translated into French many passages of the first part, being that which concerns the 
Holy Land ; and the whole of the second part, being the journey to Sinai and Egypt ; and 
from this, with the help of his own observations in the first part, (for he also had been to Jeru- 
salem,) he prepared ' Le Grant Voyage de Hierusalem,' 1487, which occupies as much space 
as the history to which it is prefixed. Le Huen acknowledged that the second part of this por- 
tion was taken from Breydenbach, and that he had been himself unable to visit Mount Sinai : 
he is more reserved as to the extent of his obligations in the first part, which offers a well- 
digested description of the Land of Promise ; and, taking it altogether, ' Le Grant Voyage ' is 
a very valuable performance, which concurred, with the separate work of Breydenbach, in 
exercising a useful influence upon the best travellers of a later day. 

We shall now class, according to the languages in which they wrote, such other travellers 
as appear to us to have taken a wider view than the mass of them did of the country through 
which they travelled, and who, while the sacred places were the chief objects of their attention, 
were not entirely unobservant of the physical characteristics of the districts through which 
they passed, nor quite neglected to record the presence of such natural products as occurred 
conspicuously to their notice. 

The Latin Itineraries and Peregrinations claim the first attention. They are very numerous, 
and, for the most part, satisfactorily brief. The greater part of them are written by monks, 
and are utterly barren of information, except as regards the holy stations, which exception 
involves, in some of them, the incidental merit of being useful for topographical purposes. 
Those travellers, writing in Latin, who kept their attention awake to subjects of general interest, 
and who in consequence furnish some contributions towards the physical history of Palestine, 
were almost exclusively laymen, as will appear when we mention the names of Baumgarten a 
(1507), b Furer c (1565), Prince Radzivil d (1580), and Cotovic e (1598): the work of the 
last-named traveller is a closely-printed volume, replete with all kinds of information, among 
which some useful facts in physical history may be found, although not in an adequate pro- 

The Spaniards have several books of travels in Palestine ; but we have not met with any 
which are other than markedly devotional pilgrimages. Of those which we have seen, the 
fine book of Castillo f (1627) seems the best of its own class; but it may be examined in vain 
for such information as we are seeking. A much earlier work, written in 1526, by Fra. 
Antonio Medina, is remarkable, in the Italian translation,? which only we have been able to 
see, for a profusion of coarse wood-cuts, exhibiting a great number of buildings and monu- 
ments in the Holy Land, of many of which we know not that any other representations exist. 

We know not what books on Palestine the Portuguese have, besides the Itinerary of Pantaliam 
d'Aveyro, h which, judging from the number of editions through which it has passed, appears 
to be held by them in high esteem. It must, upon the whole, be classed with the books of 
devotional pilgrimage, though containing more of general information than books of that class 
usually afford. For the time it was a good book ; but its goodness is not of the sort for which 
we inquire, although the author sometimes notices fruits and products which he saw in 

The greater part of the Italian books which we have seen follow the established routine of 

3 The dates inserted in parentheses in the text are the dates of the journey. The dates of publication are given with the titles 
in the following notes : these last are in general transcribed from our own copies of the several works ; but when there have been 
more than one edition, and ours is not the first, we have, when in our power, inserted the date of the first edition. 

b ' Martini a Baumgarteu in Braitenbach, Peregrinatio in iEgyptum, Arabiam, Palaestinam, et Syriam.' Norib., 1594. 

c Christ. Fiireri ab Haimendorf, Itinerarium jEgypti, Arabia?, Palaestinae, aliarumque Begionem Orientalum.' Norim., 1521. 

d Ierosolymitana Peregrinatio Illustrissimi Principis N. C. Kadzivili. Antverpia?, 1614. 

e ' Itinerarium Hierosolymitanum et Syriacum ; Auctore Joanne Cotovico.' Antwerp, 1619. 

f • El Devoto Peregrino y Viage de Tierra Santa.' Por el M. B. Padre F. Ant. del Castillo. Madrid. 1656. 

S ' Viaggio di Terra Santa, con sue Statioue e Misterii.' Firenza, 1590. 

h * Itinerario da Terra Sancta, e suas Particularidades.' Lisb., 1593. 


devotional pilgrimage. The book of Zuallart, a (Ital. Zuallardo) gives a good general account 
of the country, with some interesting notices of its products and physical characteristics. 
The French edition, published about twenty years after, by the author himself, in Flanders, 
his native country, is a very superior work to the Italian edition, being enriched by many 
interesting investigations, and by the results of a very extensive and judicious course of reading 
in all kinds of ancient writers, classical or Christian, from whom any information could be 
derived. In this form it became a most useful performance — a sterling work, which takes 
place at the head, in point of time, of what we may call the Historical travellers. Besides, 
the work is enriched by a great number of very neat copper-plate engravings of sites, buildings 
and plans, which continued for more than a century to be freely copied by other writers. 
Indeed, the author's countryman, Cotovic, already mentioned, whose book was published only 
eleven years after in the same town (Antwerp) as the first French edition of Zuallart, copied 
the whole of the plates, and was not much more scrupulous in his literary appropriation. 

The next work in Italian that seems to require a notice is the ' Pdgrimage of Don Aquilante 
Rochetta' b (1598), a decent book of travel, from which some notices of the face of the 
country may be gleaned, but which says little of its animal or vegetable products. The portion 
of Pietro della Valle's (1616) c general travels which relates to Palestine, is, though brief, of 
considerable value. The Italian Jesuit Dandini, d who, in 1599, was sent to Mount Lebanon 
on a mission to the Maronite patriarch, gives some chapters of useful information concerning 
that region, although the principal object of his book was to furnish an account of the customs 
and doctrines of the Maronites. 

The French language, while it abounds in works on Palestine, of the class which we have 
so often described as being the most common, offers many valuable old books, which have 
been strangely overlooked by those who have written en the physical characteristics of Pales- 
tine, and the natural history of the Scriptures. Indeed, it is quite safe to say, that some of the 
old French writers give far better accounts of the country generally than could at the same 
time be found in any other language, and far more solid and satisfactory than most of the 
more recent accounts which have in any language been supplied : and had those works been 
much known in this country, or even in France, not a few modern travellers in Palestine 
would have hesitated to think it in their power to add to the long-existing information con- 
cerning that country ; and it may be found that the real additions to previous information 
which even the best of them offer might in general be reduced to a very few pages indeed. 

The first book which we have met with is that of La Huen, which we have had occasion 
to mention in noticing Breydenbach. Though in the main little more than a compilation, 
modified by some matter which the author's own travels enabled him to supply, it seems to 
have offered a model which some of the most judicious writers of later date copied with im- 
provement and success. These writers generally digested their information under convenient 
and proper heads, and undertook to give a complete view of the country, and of its then 
inhabitants, whose manners, customs, and religious tenets are often very satisfactorily described. 
The physical aspect of the country, and of its particular parts, is generally stated, and its 
animal and vegetable products are not entirely overlooked, although occasion may be found 
to regret that these most important parts of the subject fail to obtain a proportionate measure of 

One of the first and best writers of this class was Eugene Roger/ a missionary monk, whose 
work embodies the materials collected during a residence of five years in Palestine. After 
a rapid general view of the country and its products, the territory of each of the Jewish 
tribes is taken in turn, and everything remarkable in it is carefully described. This occupies 

a ' Divotissimo Viaggo di Gerusalemme, fatto e descritto da Giovanni Zuallardo, l'anno 1586, con disegni di vaiii luoghi di 
Terra Santa, intagliati di Natale Bonifacio.' Roma, 1587. 

b ' Peregrinatione di Terra Santa e d'altre Provincie, di Don A. Rochetta.' Palermo, 1630. 

c ' Viaggi di Pietro della Valle il Pellegrino, descritti in lettere familiari al suo amico M. Schipano, scritti dall' anno 1614 fin'al 
1626.' Roma, 1650. 

d ' Missione Apostolica al Patriarca e Maroniti del Monte Libano.' 1656. 

c ' La Terre Sainte ; ou Description Topographique, tres particuliere des saiucts Lieux, et de la Terre de Promission.' Paris, 

c 2 


the first book ; the second is devoted to maimers and opinions. Doubdan (1652) a may be 
allowed to take rank with the best French travellers ; but although his descriptions of the holy 
places are very minute, clear, and trustworthy, he is not, in the point of view we are taking, 
by any means entitled to that pre-eminence which Chateaubriand seems disposed to assign to 
him. Another favourite of his, Des Hayes, b has little to say concerning Palestine ; and that 
little, though exact, does not appear to us of very distinguished value. M. de Moncanys, c in 
a small portion of a larger work, makes some useful contributions to our knowledge of Pales- 
tine. His book was one of no common pretension, as will appear from its title, which, on 
account of its curiousness, we give at length below ; and although there is in this author 
much of puerility and conceit, and his general character as a traveller does not now stand 
very high, he certainly was (at least in Palestine) an attentive observer of nature, and hence 
he often gives more really valuable information in a few pages than others do in volumes. 
Every day he was careful to note the physical characteristics of his route, and few things in 
the animal or vegetable world were allowed to escape his attention. In his case we have sin- 
gular cause to regret that his journey in Palestine was made during the winter, and that his 
account of it is so short. 

The statement we have before made concerning Zuallart shows that, although, for the sake 
of uniform classification, we have placed him among the writers in Italian, he would with 
more real propriety be put among the French travellers. Very similar in plan to his French 
edition is the excellent work of Nau d (16*74) the Jesuit, to whom we are inclined to assign 
the first place among the historical travellers. We think that while he excels all others in the 
success with which his diligence and various erudition enables him to bring together the inci- 
dental notices which may be found, in ancient accounts and histories, of the various places to 
which his statements refer, he is little inferior to the very best of them in his descriptions, 
from which a considerable number of useful facts contributory to a physical history of the 
country may be obtained. 

Benard e (1616) we have seen mentioned with more respect than he had seemed to us to 
claim ; but, on recurring to his book, we perceive that he may be allowed a place in this list, 
in virtue of the notice which he takes of the produce of gardens and cultivated grounds. 

The work of Surius f (1644 — 47) is more worthily distinguished from the common run of 
books on Palestine than its title would lead one to expect. It is divided into three parts, under 
the quaint titles of Le Pe'le'rin Voyageant, Le Pelerin Sejournant, and Le Pelerin Ritournant ; 
the second of which, though chiefly occupied with accounts of the sacred places, takes some 
notice of the natural characteristics of the country, which the author had ample opportunities 
of observing. 

The portion of his book of general travel which Thevenot (1657) s devotes to Palestine, 
though necessarily not extensive, is every way worthy of his high reputation, as one of the 
most instructive travellers of his own age or any other. It is indeed quite a refreshment to 
meet with him in the somewhat dreary assemblage of travellers in the Holy Land. He was a 
man of scientific education, and a gentleman ; and while his chief attention is engaged by the 
customs and institutions of the people among whom he passes, he is far from inattentive to the 
aspect of the country, and is careful to notice the vegetable products which, at the season of 
his journey, were in fruit or flower. 

That accomplished gentleman, the Chevalier d'Arvieux h (1660), deserves most honourable 

a ' Voyage de la Terre Sainte, contenant une veritable description des lieux les plus considerables que Notre Seigneur a 
sanctifies de sa presence, predications, morale et souffrauces, &c. &c.' Paris, 1657- 

b ' Voyage de Levant ; fait par le Commandement du Koi, en l'annee 1621, par Le Sr. D. C Paris, 1629; second edition. 

c ' Journal des Voyages de Monsieur de Monconys ; oil les Scavants trouveront un uombre infini de nouveautez, en Machines de 
Mathematique, Experiences Physique, Raisounemens de la belle Philosophic, curiositez de Chymie, et conversations des Illustres 
de ce Siecle ; Outre la description de divers Animaux et Plantes rares, plusieurs secrets inconnus pour le Plaisir et le Sante, les 
Ouvrages des Peintures fameux, les Coiltumes et Moeurs des Nations, et ce qu'il y a de plus digne de la connoissance d'uu 
honnete Homme dans les trois Parties du Monde.' Lyon, 1665. 

<1 ' Voyage Nouveau de la Terre Sainte.' Paris, 1744. 

c ' Le Voyage de Hierusalem.' Par le Sr. Benard, Parisien. Paris, 1621. 

f ' Le Pieux Pelerin, ou Voyage de Jerusalem.' Bruss., 1666. S ' Relation d'un Voyage fait au Levant.' Par. 1664-74. 

h ' Memoires du Chev. d'Arvieux. Par Jean Baptist Labat., Paris, 1735. The second volume contains the travels in Pales- 
line ; the third gives a singularly interesting account of d'Arvieux's sojourn among the Arabs of Carmel. 


mention. He resided with the French consul at Sidon (Seide), and acquired an intimate 
acquaintance with the languages and manners of the people, during some years before he 
traversed the country. He travelled the whole length and breadth of Syria, and gave the 
European world more extended and clear ideas concerning it than had previously been enter- 
tained, or than were superseded till the time of Volney, if then. His geographical observations 
and views of the face of the country are truly valuable, coming, as they do, from a well- 
instructed mind, and being therefore refreshing to one who has hitherto had to trace little 
more than the hap-hazard remarks of ignorant pilgrims and monks. His observations in 
natural history, in the restricted sense, are not numerous, being confined to some of the prin- 
cipal productions. 

The next traveller, in point of time, who requires to be noticed, is La Roque a (1688), whose 
superior account of Mount Lebanon, its productions and inhabitants, superseded the compara- 
tively meagre account given by Dandini, and continued to bear the character of supplying the 
best account of this interesting region which Europe possessed, till in its turn superseded by 
Volney. Some of its information is still valuable. 

But none of the works which we have mentioned seem to us comparable, on the whole, to 
that of Morison b (1698). Some exceed it in erudition, many in minuteness of detail, and one 
or two in geographical description ; but as a general account of all that is note-worthy, and as 
combining in just proportions the best qualities of a good and solid book of travels, this work 
stood alone in its own day, and has not been exceeded, if equalled, since. 

The German travellers in Palestine were subject to the general influences which operated 
upon pilgrims of other nations ; but they were the first to free themselves from the bondage of 
routine pilgrimage, and to offer to the public really profitable information concerning the Holy 
Land. Breydenbach, whom we have already mentioned with commendation, was a German ; 
and the first person who visited Palestine for the purpose of collecting information concerning 
its natural history was of the same nation. This was Leonhart Rauwolff, whom we shall 
presently have further occasion to mention. It is unhappily so difficult in this country to 
collect old German books, or to obtain clear information concerning them, that we are by no 
means confident that there may not be many more than we are now prepared to mention, 
which afford such information as a writer on the Physical History of Palestine would desire 
to obtain. That in this, as in other cases, we only mention such works as we have seen, and 
that those mentioned throughout the present chapter is but a selection, for a specific purpose, of 
a much larger number which we have examined, will account for the absence of a vast number of 
names and titles which the reader may find in the catalogues of Pinkerton and Dela Richarderie. 

It will be remembered that the authors of much the greater portion of the Latin Itineraries, 
with which we commenced this notice, were Germans ; and the German nation must take the 
credit of whatever praise has been ascribed to them. 

In connection with this subject, the most conspicuous matter that comes under our notice 
is a thick and closely-printed German folio volume of a thousand pages, bearing the date of 
1659, and consisting entirely of travels in Palestine, by Germans, twenty-one in number. 
They are printed entire, and the dates of travel range from the middle of the 13th to the be- 
ginning of the 17th century. A few of them are translations from some of the Latin Itineraries 
by Germans, which we have had occasion to notice. We doubt that any other country could 
produce a collection of travels in the Holy Land, so creditable as this to the character of its 
earlier travellers. There are few articles in this curious collection from which something 
useful to the inquirer into the physical history of Palestine may not be gleaned. Those of the 
number who offer the most numerous and valuable contributions are, Steffans Von Gumpen- 
berg d (1449), Johann Tucher e (1479), Johann, Count of Solms f (1483), who was one of the 

a ' Voyage de Syrie et du Mont Liban : eonteiiaut la Description de tout le Pays compris sous le Nom de Liban et d'Anti- 
Liban, Kesraon, &e.' Paris, 1722. 

b ' Relation Historique d'un Voyage nouvellement fait au Mont de Sinai, et a Jerusalem.' Toul., 1704. 

c ' Besehreibung der Raiss in die Morgenlander fiirnemlicb Syriam, Judaeam, Arabiam, &c.' Augs. 1581. This, the original 
edition, has a number of figures of plants, which have not been copied into the translation published by Ray. 

d ' Besehreibung der Meerfahrt in das Heilige Landt.' Frank., 1561. 

e ' Reise-beschreibung zum Heilige Grabe.* Aug. 1483. f ' Reise ins Heilige Landt und zum berg Sinai.' 


Breydenbach party. Daniel Ecklin a (1552), Jacob Wormbser b (1561), Hanns Helffrich c 
(1565), and Solomon Schweigger d (1576). Besides tbese, there are many other travellers of 
the period under consideration, which this collection does not include, but who furnish 
intimations, more or less frequent and valuable, concerning the face of the country, its climate, 
seasons, and vegetable products — we had almost said ' animal ' also ; but it is a remarkable fact, 
that, by German as well as by other travellers, far more attention has been given to the botany 
than to the zoology of the Promised Land. These travellers are, Breuning e (15*71), Tschudis 
von Glarus f (1606), TroiloS (1667), Otto von der Groben h (1675), and Myrike 1 (1684). The 
first named of these regarded, with more attention than most other travellers of his time, the 
animals, new to him, which came under his notice ; and several very tolerable figures are 
given. But, unhappily, his observations of this class are more frequent and detailed in Egypt 
and Arabia than in Syria ; or rather, by the time he reached Palestine, most of the animals he 
saw had ceased to be new to him, and he seldom felt the necessity of noticing the mere 
presence in Palestine of creatures which elsewhere had already been particularly noticed. 
Troilo, though not professedly more of a naturalist than other travellers of his time, is more 
than usually particular in his attention to those objects which do engage his notice. 
. Journeys to Palestine were hardly to be expected in the 16th and 17th centuries from the 
Dutch. Their form of religion left them no zeal to visit the holy places ; and they were too 
much troubled, or too much engaged in war or maritime traffic, to have leisure to journey for 
science or pleasure. We do not know that more than two or three Dutch books of travel in 
the Holy Land occur before the 18th century, and these we have not been able to obtain. 
Holland did, however, produce one valuable singularity regarding Palestine which requires to 
be mentioned. Dr. Olfert Dapper employed his leisure in embodying all existing information 
concerning various foreign countries into connected accounts of them. The result of his 
labours is exhibited in eight or nine substantial folios, illustrated with a vast number of very 
superior engravings. One of the largest of these volumes is entirely devoted to Syria and 
Palestine, 11 being, as far as we know, the most extensive single account of the Holy Land which 
even yet exists in any language. As a compilation, its value, of course, arises from the 
immense number of statements which it brings together, from authors whose productions are 
now forgotten or not easy of access. Dapper always faithfully reports his authorities, and 
annexes their names to the statements for which they are responsible : but he leaves it to his 
reader to exercise a discretion which he wanted ; as he sometimes adduces authorities of no 
great value, and whose inaccuracies a little of that critical tact which he entirely wanted 
might have enabled him to discover. As it is, his great book is valuable or not, according to 
the hands into which it comes. 

It would almost seem as if the Dutch, towards the close of the 17th century, had become 
desirous to clear themselves in the eyes of Europe for their previous neglect of the Holy Land, 
by throwing into the scale a few enormous and splendid volumes, which in costliness and 
physical ponderosity might overpoise a score of such comparatively small and humble works 
as other European nations had previously contributed. Dapper's great book was something ; 
but being a compilation, its claims were of a questionable sort. They soon, therefore, followed 
with an original traveller, in a volume much more bulky and far more splendid than any 
which had previously appeared. This was the great work of Cornelius van Bruyn, 1 a talented 
painter, who, as he travelled, employed his pencil with great activity and skill ; and was hence 
enabled to supply numerous engravings of objects never before, and many of them never 
since, represented. But this is the chief merit of his work, the literary claims of which are 
not commensurate with the pictorial. His subjects for remark are, indeed, very generally well 

a ' Reize zum Heilige Grab.' Colon. 1580. b ' Reise ins Heilige Land und im Egypteu.' Frank., 1603. 

c ' Reise nach Hierusalem, jEgypten und dem Berg Sinai.' Leip., 1579. 

<* ' Newe Reiss-besehreibung aus Teutchland nach Constantiuopel und Jerusalem.' Norim., 1608. 

c * Orientalische Reise in die Turkie.' Stras., 1612. f ' Reyse und Bilgerfahrt zum Heilegen Grab.' Rohr., 1606. 

e • Orientalische Reisebeschreibung.' Marien., 1694. b * Orientalische Reisbeschreibung.' Dresd.,1676. 

i ' Reis nach Jerusalem und dem Lande Canaan.' Osnabr., 1714. 

k • Naukerige Beschryving van gantsch Syrie en Palestyn of Heilige Lant, &c.' Amst., 1680. 

l Better, perhaps, known by the Frenchified name of Corneillele Brun. The title of his book is ' Reysen door den Levant in de 
Vermaardeste deelen van Klein-Asien, Scio, Rhodes, Cyprus, iEgypten, Syrien en Palestina.' Delft, 1699. 


chosen, but the remarks themselves are seldom very solid, and often inaccurate. On subjects of 
natural history, there are, however, many useful observations and some engravings. And if the 
general merits of Bruyn suffer, it is rather from comparison with the travellers who came after 
him, than with those who preceded ; and this comparison is not a very fair one to make. But 
if he had followed a Chardin in Palestine as he did in Persia, even a retrospective comparison 
could not have been to his advantage. 

The contributions of English travellers, previously to the 18th century, to our knowledge 
of Palestine, were in no respect considerable. Some small accounts by English travellers may 
be found in Hakluyt and Purchas ; but the only names of note which connect themselves with 
the Holy Land are those of Sandys a (1610), and Maundrell b (1697). The view which the 
former took had the larger scope, and offers some interesting though rather indistinct glimpses 
of the natural aspect of particular points, and of the products which they offered. Maundrell's 
object was limited to a view of the holy places, of which he furnishes an account so intelligent 
and perspicuous, that his still remains the standard description in the English language, and is 
scarcely rivalled in any other. The book is a model of its kind ; and though it contributes 
but few facts to the physical history of the country, these few are valuable. 

In thus enumerating the writers on Palestine, prior to the commencement of the 18th cen- 
tury, whose works do, more or less, offer facts contributory to the physical history of the 
country, we have been mainly influenced by the wish to show that there exist mines of in- 
formation which appear to have been unknown, and which have certainly never been explored, 
by those who might have most advantageously employed the facts which they offered. We are 
assuredly not disposed to exaggerate the importance of these facts : none can have had more 
cause than ourselves to feel the inadequacy of all existing materials. But the very dearth of 
adequate materials does all the more enhance the importance of those which may be collected 
from such sources as we have indicated ; and we are satisfied that these, together with the 
other better known sources of information, supply matter for such a view of the natural con- 
dition of this interesting country as no writer has yet offered to the public, or even attempted 
to produce. 

We have brought down this enumeration to a very convenient point ; for from about the 
end of the 17th century a manifest change of character is observable in the books of travel in 
Palestine. This is easily accounted for. In Catholic countries the public possessed such 
ample accounts of the Holy Land, and particularly of its sacred places, in which they were 
most interested, that nothing further was felt to be needed, or found adequate encouragement. 
Indeed there are manifest signs in some of the later works of the period, that they were put 
forth by their authors chiefly with the view of recommending themselves to the notice and 
patronage of their superiors in the church. Hence the field was abandoned — enough had 
been done; — and the whole 18th century did not produce more than one or two works of any 
note by Catholic travellers in Palestine. 

On the other hand, at this very juncture, when the subject began to be dropped by Catholics 
as one which they had exhausted, it was taken up by Protestants with all the ardour with which 
men take up a matter which seems to them new, and which really becomes new in their hands, 
under the changed medium through which it is viewed, and the fresh class of feelings with 
which it is examined. The Reformation, by teaching that pilgrimages had no saving merit 
before God, nor any necessary influence in bringing the soul nearer to Him, withdrew from a 
part of Europe the great motive which had made the Holy Land a place of concourse for 
"pilgrim feet" from all parts of Christendom. In this, as in other matters, — and from the 
natural operation of the principle of antagonism, — the practical feeling went far beyond the 
abstract doctrine : the doctrine only taught that pilgrimages were unprofitable, but the actual 
feeling, in the first times of the Reformation, was, that they were little less than sinful ; and 
seeing that the Holy Land still continued to be resorted to by Catholic pilgrims, journeys 
to Palestine were avoided by Protestants, lest they should be supposed to be influenced by the 
same class of feelings and opinions. Hence, an interval of nearly two centuries had produced 

a ' A Relation of a Journey begun An. Dom. 1610.' Loud. 1632. 3rd edit. 
b ' Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem.' Oxon., 1707. 


a dearth of information concerning Palestine, singularly in contrast with its redundance in 
Catholic countries. This want began to be felt at the time we have indicated ; and when 
the lapse of several generations had removed all fear of misconception, by softening the first 
ardour of opposition to Catholic practices, even in things indifferent, it began to be felt that 
a Protestant need be none the worse for a journey to Palestine, or even for visiting the places 
accounted holy ; while many clearly saw that valuable materials for the elucidation of the 
Scriptures might be drawn from the country in which the writers lived, and the characteristics 
of which influenced their allusions and the forms in which their ideas were conveyed. The 
tide thus turned : and, from that time to this, the mass of writings on Palestine have been 
furnished by Protestants, who have now produced works as numerous and diversified as those 
which the Catholics had previously possessed. 

This new class of travellers to Palestine were clearly distinguishable from the mass of their 
Catholic predecessors. They gave less exclusive attention to, and furnish less detailed ac- 
counts of the sacred places, and the feelings which they connect with them are less enthu- 
siastic, — and this, because the Protestant saw cause to doubt much which the Catholic entirely 
believed, and stopped to inquire where the Catholic allowed himself only to feel. We find 
more freedom of investigation, and greater breadth of view : but, seeing that none of these 
later travellers spent more than a few weeks in a country where many of their predecessors 
resided for years, they are comparatively superficial on those points to which the latter had 
been accustomed to attend. Some of these works are invaluable for their clear and graphic 
descriptions ; others for their inquiries concerning sites and accounts of ruins ; some for 
making us acquainted with districts not in former times explored ; many for accurate accounts 
of the manners and customs of the present inhabitants ; and a few for their notices of the 
physical condition and natural products of the country : but, speaking of the mass, it is a great 
and growing evil that these books tell us less of Palestine than of the traveller and his im- 
pressions — less of the country than of his adventures in it, and of the people with whom he 
has to do. 

We may now proceed to mention those among these later writers whose labours have, in 
any considerable degree, made us better acquainted with the physical history of Palestine. 

In the 18th century the Italian language offered a valuable contribution to our knowledge 
of Palestine in the travels of the Abate Mariti. a Half of the work is occupied with the isle of 
Cyprus, of which it offers the best account we possess : the other half is devoted to Syria and 
Palestine, and through the judicious abstinence of the author from such details as are a 
hundred times repeated by the older travellers, this portion of Mariti's work offers a much 
larger quantity of new matter than its comparatively limited extent might lead one to expect. 
It includes, indeed, a somewhat unsatisfactory history of Jerusalem ; but he gives a very good 
account of the different people inhabiting Syria and Palestine, and the descriptive parts contain 
a larger number of clear and trustworthy statements concerning the products and physical 
aspects of Palestine, than are often afforded by any single traveller. 

Two very eminent French writers, Chateaubriand b (1806), and Lamartine, c have, in our 
own day, increased their reputation by the respective accounts of their travels in Palestine. It 
seems to have been their intention to evoke the spirit of the old pilgrim travellers, and re- 
produce it to the world in a form more beautiful and more refined than any in which it has 
been hitherto seen. The attempt was so far successful, that works were produced which, for 
their very eloquent and beautiful language, their fine sentiments and animated descriptions, will 
always be read with pleasure. But they add almost nothing to our real knowledge of the 
country, and can never be referred to as of any original authority or value. The same may be 
said, still more strongly, of the only English traveller in Palestine by whom a similar style of 
composition has been attempted. 

We have introduced the names of Chateaubriand and Lamartine, more on account of their 
eminence than from their being connected with the present inquiry. The case is very different 
with respect to their countryman and immediate predecessor, Volney, d who, about fifty years 

a ' Viaggio dell' Abate Mariti per Isola di Cypro per la Sorie e la Palestina, &c., dell anno 1760 al 1768.' Turin, 1/69. 
b ' Itineraire de Paris a Jerusalem.' 1812. c Souvenirs pendant mi Voyage en Orient. 

<> ' Voyage en Syrie et en Egypte, en 1783, 1784, et 1785.' Paris. 2 vols., 8vo., 1800. Thirdedit. 


ago, presented to the public the only original account of the physical characteristics of the 
country (as included in Syria) which has ever yet been offered to the public with any preten- 
sions to completeness. This work has none of the minute descriptions of places, or details of 
personal adventure and accommodation, which, together or apart, fill up most of the books on 
the country ; but is an excellent digest of observations made and information collected during 
a residence of three years in Egypt and Syria. The sceptical opinions for which the author 
was afterwards noted scarcely appear in this performance, which contains not only the best 
general account of Syria and its inhabitants, but the only connected view of what may be called 
its physical geography. 

The German travellers of the 18th century, though not very numerous, maintain the respect- 
able relative rank which they had previously assumed. Korten a supplies a considerable 
number of valuable facts concerning the physical geography and natural products of Palestine. 
The later work of Schulz b and its value is sufficiently indicated when we state, that to it the 
German writers, and Malte Brun, most frequently refer for information concerning the 
physical geography of Palestine. Niebuhr, although a Dane, must be classed as a German 
traveller. His reputation is too well understood to require explanation. But as Arabia was 
the country of his destination, and in which his real fame was won, his passage through 
Palestine was only an incident. Yet, even in passing, such a true traveller as Niebuhr 
could not fail to distinguish himself from the common run of travellers in Palestine; and 
accordingly the comparatively small space which he allows to the subject is marked by the 
soundness and practical value of its contents. 

In the present century, the leading German name is that of Seetzen, the worthy predecessor 
of Burckhardt. In the years 1805, 1806, 1807, in repeated excursions from Damascus, he 
explored the Haouran, and the countries east of the Jordan, and once passed to Jerusalem by 
rounding the southern extremity of the Dead Sea from the east. These were new tracts 
unexplored by European feet since, at least, the times of the Crusaders, though now already 
well worn by English travellers, following the example which Seetzen gave. It is to be 
regretted that we have no connected account of his researches. All the information which the 
public has received concerning them is contained in his letters to Baron Zach, which were 
published in the different volumes of the 'Monatliche Corresponded ' His journals, arranged 
by himself, up to April, 1809, and therefore containing all his researches except those con- 
nected with Arabia, are still in existence, and it may be hoped they may yet see the light. 
His letters contain a large number of excellent observations on the physical characteristics 
and natural (particularly mineral and vegetable) products of those parts of Palestine which 
he visited ; and it is to be regretted that the only portions of his observations which have yet 
been offered to the English public are those contained in a thin pamphlet published, in 1810, 
by the Palestine Association, under the title ' Some Account of the Countries adjoining the 
Lake of Tiberias.' 

The portion which relates to the Holy Land of the work of the Dutch travellers Van Egmont 
and Heyman, d though of small extent, contains a larger number of good and sensible observa- 
tions on the physical characteristics and products of the country than accounts of much 
greater pretension have usually afforded. 

In our own language, the well-known and excellent work of Dr. Shaw e (1722) contains 
numerous elucidations of Scripture from the customs and natural history of the East ; but those 
parts which refer to the actual physical history of Palestine are brief, though very valuable. 

Pococke f (1738) is a traveller whose learning and antiquarian zeal are well understood. 

a ' Reise nach dem Gelobten Lande.' Halae Magd., 1751. 

b * Reisen durch Europa, Asia, und Afrika.' Halae Magd., 1771- 

c See the American * Biblical Repository.' Dr. Robinson, the editor, says that the journals of Seetzen had been, and probably 
still were, in the hands of Professor Kruse, of Dorpat. That gentleman had made some preparations to publish them, but 
was prevented by his inability to make out the Arabic words and names, and his unwillingness to employ another person to do 
this for him. But Dr. Robinson was told by Gesenius, who had examined the manuscripts, that they contain few important 
general facts beyond those which had been given to the public by Seetzen himself in his letters. 

d * Travels through part of Europe, Asia Minor, the Islands of the Archipelago, Syria, and Egypt, translated from the Low 
Dutch.' Lond., 1759. 

e ' Travels, or Observations relating to several Parts of Barbary and the Levant,' 3rd edit. Edin., 1808. 

f ' Description of the East.' Lond., 1745. 

VOL. I. (1 


By these qualities he is chiefly distinguished : yet he has some observations on the natural 
features and products of the country which are entitled to respect ; particularly as, to these, he 
has added a list of the plants which he found growing in Palestine. 

Clarke a (1801) spent but eighteen days in Palestine, and his account of it is unequal to his 
high reputation, and to some other portions of his extensive work. It is still, however, much 
above the common level, and furnishes many interesting notices of plants observed by the 
traveller on his way. Burckhardt b (1810 — 1812), though no naturalist, allowed nothing to 
escape his notice in the districts through which he passed; and hence he offers some very 
important contributions to the natural history of northern Palestine, and the countries beyond 
Jordan, and to the east and south of the Dead Sea, which were formerly occupied by the tribes 
of Reuben and Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and the nations of Moab, Ammon, and 
Edom. Indeed, Burckhardt, with Seetzen c (1805-7), Irby and Mangles d (1818), and Buck- 
ingham 6 (1816), are entitled to the praise of having made known to our own age the Trans- 
Jordanic country, with which so many Scriptural and historical associations are connected, but 
which no former travellers ventured to visit, or undertook to describe. Among the travellers 
we have just named, it may be very safely said that Irby and Mangles furnish a larger number 
of new facts towards the physical history of the Holy Land than are to be found in any of the 
works, old or recent, which have passed under our notice, or in many of them put together ; 
and it is much to be regretted that theirs, which is in many respects the most informing book 
on the general subject, has never been properly offered to the public, and is difficult to 
procure, having only been printed for private distribution. 

Mr. Buckingham's descriptions of the physical characteristics of the districts over which he 
travelled afford a more considerable number of useful facts, of the required class, than we 
expected to find. These are the most abundant and instructive in the work, which describes 
the countries east of the Jordan, which is, in other respects also, a more valuable performance 
than the same author's previous work on Palestine. f 

We are happy that a few scattered notices of the natural characteristics of particular spots 
enable us to allow a place in our list to Dr. Richardson s (1818), the Maundrell of the 19th 
century, and, unquestionably, the very best topographer which has yet appeared of Jerusalem 
and of those parts of Palestine which he visited. 

Madox h (1824) has but very few observations available for the purpose we have in view; 
but these few, which are chiefly miner alogical notices and allusions to the state of the weather, 
are good and useful. Mr. Madden 1 (1827) has much to say on various points of natural 
history before he reaches Palestine ; but after he enters that country, the information we obtain 
from him is very small indeed. The Rev. Vere Monro k (1 833) has some knowledge of botany, 
which induces him to take notice of plants, and to specify them with unusual clearness. The 
portion of his work which Dr. Hogg 1 (1833) allows to Palestine is but small; but that small 
portion is valuable, from its unusually numerous and distinct indications of the products, 
appearance, and physical character of the ground he passed over. 

From Mr. Robinson's ra (1830) two volumes some small pieces of useful information may be 
gleaned ; but he makes so uncommonly free with the writings of his English predecessors, 
that it is difficult to distinguish the new information, if there be any, or to estimate the degree 
of honour to which he is himself entitled. 

Major Skinner 11 (1833), Mr. Stephens ° (1836), and Lord Lyndsay f (1836), may be classed 
together as belonging to the personal-adventure class of travellers. They offer us agreeable 
books, readable, and instructive to the class of general readers for whose use they are intended. 

a ' Travels iu various Countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Part ii. Greece, Egypt, and the Holy Land.' 

b ' Travels in Syria and the Holy Land.' Lond., 1822. 

c * Account of the Countries adjoining the Lake of Tiberias, the Jordan, and the Dead Sea.' Bath, 1810. 

d ' Travels in Egypt, Nubia, Syria, and Asia Minor, during the years 1817 and 1818.' Lond., 1823. 

e • Travels among the Arab Tribes.' 1825. f ' Travels in Palestine,' 1821. 

8 ' Travels aloug the Mediterranean.' Lond., 1822. h ' Excursions in the Holy Land, Syria, Egypt, &c.' Lond., 1834. 

i ' Travels in Turkey, Egypt, Nubia, and Palestine, in 1824, 25, 26, 27, and 29.' 

k * Summer's Ramble in Syria.' Lond., 1835. ' ' Visit to Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Damascus.' Lond., 1835. 

m ' Travels in Palestine and Syria.' Lond., 1836. n ' Adventures in an Overland Journey to India, 1836.' 

° ' Iucidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea, and the Holy Land.' Lond., 1838. 

P ' Letters on Egypt, Edom, and the Holy Land.' 1833. 


But to one by whom books on Palestine have been studied, these works do not, in Palestine, 
offer anything new beyond the character, adventures, and, perhaps, the impressions of the 
authors, — save when they state any changes which may have occurred since the visit of the 
last preceding traveller, or illustrate by new facts the character and condition of the people. 
For the object we have now in view, these three works offer few materials; but these few 
are worth collecting. Mr. Stephens and Lord Lyndsay did not turn to much account their 
peculiar advantage of entering the Holy Land by a route (from the south-east) previously 
untrodden. Major Skinner makes better use of his advantage in crossing the eastern desert 
to the Euphrates. One refreshing characteristic is common to the soldier, the merchant, and 
the nobleman, — an unaffected respect for the Holy Scriptures, rising, in the case of Lord 
Lyndsay, to a degree of enlightened piety which, in our day, procures him honour, but which 
in a day not long past might have exposed him to much derision, and to many a taunt hard 
to bear. That there are such travellers in our day, and that they are received with attention 
and respect, is a sign of the times, full of promise. 

The latest of our travellers in Palestine is in many respects the most informing of any who 
has appeared before the public for many years. This is the Rev. C. B. Elliot, a whose travels 
in the country were more than usually extensive, and whose observations in its physical 
geography and every branch of its natural history, are much more than usually numerous, 
and, as far as they go, truly valuable. He seems to have turned to the best account the 
advantage which he enjoyed of travelling with the Rev. G. Nicolayson, the well-informed 
missionary to the Jews, who has long resided in Syria, and of late years at Jerusalem. This 
advantage, concurring with the author's own turn for useful observation, results in the pro- 
duction of a more original and instructive account of a journey in the Holy Land than the 
preceding fifteen or twenty years had afforded. 

Of the travellers lately noticed, those who have explored the country east of the Jordan 
are Madox, Robinson, Stephens, Lord Lyndsay and Elliot : but it is not easy to see that any of 
them, excepting the last, makes any addition of consequence to the information which Seetzen, 
Burckhardt, Buckingham, and Irby and Mangles had long before supplied. 

In concluding this survey, we are quite aware that the estimate which we have formed 
will, in many instances, be found to differ from those usually entertained. Let it, therefore, 
be recollected that many of the names we have given are those of travellers who visited other 
countries besides Palestine, and the prevailing estimate of whose character has been formed 
with a view to the aggregate result of all their labours ; whereas, we have confined our atten- 
tion to those parts of their works which treat of the Promised Land, and which may be worse 
or better than the other parts. Then, again, it is to be understood that we have examined 
these works for contributions to a physical history of Palestine, and for no other purpose ; and 
that our notices have necessarily been guided by that limiting consideration. And if any one 
should think that we have manifested an inclination to estimate the travellers prior to the 18th 
century more indulgently than those since, it will be remembered that the former were 
selected from a great number, and were necessarily estimated with some comparing reference 
to the utter dearth of useful facts among their contemporary pilgrims ; whereas, the travellers 
of later date could not possibly be estimated without some view towards the higher require- 
ments of a more improved age. 

It will be recollected that the above enumeration is confined to such authorities as seem to 
furnish some materials towards the natural history and physical description of Palestine. 
Hence we have necessarily omitted to notice a multitude of works which, of whatever value in 
other respects, afford little if any information on this class of subjects. Some of the names we 
have mentioned must be familiar to our readers, many of whom will feel surprise to be told, 
that information has been as little sought for, by writers on the physical history of the Bible, 
in the more recent and better known works now mentioned, as in those older and less known 
which were before enumerated. Shaw is the only one of these whose work appears to have 
been consulted. This is a circumstance which makes one inclined to suspect that the unsatis- 

n ' Travels in the Three Great Empires.' 1839. 

d 2 


factory character of the current books on the subject proceeds less from the unacquaintance 
of their authors with proper sources of information, than from indisposition to undertake 
the certainly serious labour of collecting and digesting the numerous small facts dispersed 
over so large a surface. 

It may be asked, then, how have such accounts been prepared, since the proper authorities 
have not been consulted. The answer has been given by anticipation, — that really no attempt 
has been made to furnish the physical history of Palestine ; and that while much has been 
done to explain and illustrate the allusions to natural products and physical circumstances 
which the Scriptures contain, it has been done on a loose principle, which was very far from 
requiring that the illustration should be sought in, or even near, the country which supplied 
the original subject. The few who saw the superior value, in such subjects, of facts derived 
immediately from the parent country, overlooked the sources we have indicated, and turned 
only to those few persons who had visited Palestine as professed naturalists. These form 
a class by themselves, and we have, therefore, reserved them for that separate notice to which 
we now proceed. 

The first of these is Peter Belon, a who spent three years (1546 — 49) in exploring the 
Levant, at the expense of Cardinal de Tournon. He travelled in Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt, 
Palestine and Syria. He gave his principal attention to the various animal and vegetable 
products which occurred to his notice, without entirely overlooking topographical matters and 
the manners of the people. His account of Palestine is short, but exceedingly valuable, from 
the number of its products which he enumerates. The name of Belon is well known to 
general naturalists ; but the results of his researches have rarely been referred to by writers on 
the natural history of the Bible. His name is not, for instance, given by Dr. Harris in his 
list of authorities. 

Later in the same century, nearly three years (1576 — 79) were also spent by Rauwolff b in 
Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia, for the express purpose of acquainting himself with the 
botany of those countries. The information which he gives on the plants of the Holy Land 
is extensive and very valuable ; and the little account to which it has been hitherto turned is 
the more strange, as the work exists in the English language, having been translated under 
the auspices of Ray, who added useful catalogues of Levantine plants, collected from Rauwolff, 
Belon, and others. 

But by far the most important contribution to the natural history of Palestine made by any 
single traveller was furnished by Hasselquist, a pupil of Linnaeus. He died on his expedition, 
in 1752, at Smyrna; and his papers having been procured from thence, were published by 
Linnaeus himself, who prefixed an introductory account of Hasselquist, in the course of which 
he thus states the origin of that impulse which led his lamented pupil to the Holy Land : — 
" In one of my botanical lectures in the year 1747, I enumerated the countries of which we 
knew the natural history, and those of which we were ignorant. Among the latter was Pales- 
tine. With this we were less acquainted than with the remotest parts of India ; although the 
natural history of this remarkable country was the most necessary for divines and writers on 
the Scriptures, who have, indeed, used their utmost endeavours to know the animals therein 
mentioned, yet could not, with any degree of certainty, determine what they were, until some 
one should visit Palestine and acquaint himself with its natural history. This is the more 
surprising, as botany is much indebted to several industrious divines, who had strictly ex- 
amined the plants of other countries ; but though many of the Romish clergy travel to Palestine 
every year, not one had ever troubled himself on this subject. Hasselquist was very desirous 
of being the first who should inform the public of the natural history of Palestine, and was 
determined to accomplish it. He imparted his design to me soon after : but, surprised at his 

a ' Observations de Plusieurs Singularity et Choses Memorables trouvees en Grece, Asie, Judee, Egypte, Arable, et autres 
Pays estranges.' Paris, 1588. 

*> 'A Collection of Curious Voyages and Travels. In two tomes, the first containing Dr. Leonhart Rauwolff 's Itinerary 
into the Eastern Countries. Translated from the High Dutch, by Nicholas Staphorst.' Lond., 1693. 

c The original is in Swedish. An English translation appeared under the title of ' Voyages and Travels in the Levant, in the 
Years 1749,50,51,52; containing Observations in Natural 'History, Physick, Agriculture, and Commerce, particularly on the 
Holy Land, and the Natural History of the Scriptures. By the late Fred. Hasselquist, M.D. Published by Charles Linnaeus.' 
Loud., 17*56. 


enterprising spirit, I represented to him the length of the way, the great difficulties, the many 
dangers, and the very considerable expenses which would attend such an undertaking, and, 
lastly, the indifferent state of his own health, particularly the weakness of his lungs : but from 
this he urged his object the more, alleging that weak lungs could only be cured by travel and 
change of climate ; and so determined was he in his resolution, that he declared he would 
rather walk all the way than have his purposes crossed. His mind was fixed on the voyage." 
Though very inadequately supplied with the requisite funds, he was enabled to accomplish 
all the objects which he had proposed to himself; and it was while waiting at Smyrna for a 
passage home with his collections, that he was attacked by the illness of which he died. The 
collection of his papers, published by Linnaeus, is not extensive, and a considerable portion is 
occupied with matter pertaining to Egypt, Natolia, and Cyprus : but his accounts and lists 
of animals, insects, and plants of Palestine are invaluable as far as they go, and, in the present 
state of our knowledge, must form the basis of all that can be offered on the subject. Had 
Hasselquist lived to digest his own materials, he might have given the world something like a 
complete natural history of the Holy Land ; but, as it is, he can only be regarded as one of 
many contributors to such a history, though by far the chief among them all. The specimens 
of plants collected by him furnished Strand, one of the disciples of Linnaeus, with the principal 
materials for the ' Flora Palaestina,' inserted in the 38th volume of the Linnsean ' Opuscula.' 

The famous Danish expedition, projected by Michaelis and supported by the King of Den- 
mark, was, in its original design, intended chiefly to procure illustrations of the sacred 
records, and particularly of the natural history of the Scriptures. The naturalist of the expe- 
dition, however, died in Arabia ; and although the survivor, Niebuhr, published a catalogue of 
subjects of natural history a from his papers, it relates entirely to Egypt and Arabia, and offers 
no direct contributions to the natural history of Palestine. As, however, the Bible notices the 
products of Arabia and Egypt as well as of Palestine, the work has been much used by 
later writers on the natural history of the Bible, particularly as it gives the native names of the 
various products enumerated, and thus opens an extensive mine which might be explored for 
those etymological analogies for which such writers very anxiously seek. 

As the materials which the great French work on Egypt offers have been entirely over- 
looked by all writers on the physical and natural history of Palestine, the plan of this chapter 
requires us to indicate their value. 

M. Delisle, in his descriptions of Egyptian plants, b necessarily includes many which are 
common to Egypt and Palestine. In his memoir on the plants which grow spontaneously in 
Egypt, he makes some useful observations in comparative botany, including Syria in his 
consideration ; and the succeeding memoir on the plants cultivated in Egypt offers some valu- 
able allusions to the ancient and modern state of cultivation in Palestine. The * Floras iEgyp- 
tiacae Illustratio ' of the same writer is very valuable, as it combines the results of all previous 
inquiry, and clearly indicates the species common to Egypt and Palestine, as well as those found 
on the common border of both countries. 

The twentieth volume treats on the physical geography of Egypt, by M. Girard, and from 
it some pieces of useful information may be gleaned by the writer on the physical history of 
Palestine who wishes to take a large view of his subject — which view, to be of historical 
value, must, while it includes Lebanon on the north, include also on the south the desert 
regions which border equally on Palestine and Egypt, as well as the mountains and deserts of 
the Sinai peninsula. 

In the twenty-first volume M. de Rosiere supplies much valuable information concerning 
the mineralogical construction of districts which are historically and physically connected with 
Palestine, and which must be comprehended in such a large view as that to which we have 

The account which MM. Savigny and Audouin give, in part of vol. xxi., the whole of vol. xxii., 

a ' Descriptions Animalum, Avium, Amphibiorum, Piscium, Insectorum, Vermium ; quse in Itinera Orientali observavit Pe- 
trus Forskal.' Hauniae, 1775. 4to. 

b ' Description de l'Egypte,' tome xix., 8vo edit.. 

c ' We may here mention that the subject of the agriculture of the Hebrews lias been ably treated by Reyuier in his work, ' De 
l'Economie Publique et Rural des Arabes et des Juifs.' Geneva, 1820 ; and also by the Rev. T. Plumtree, in the ' Investigator.' 


and part of vol. xxiii., of the invertebrate animals " of Egypt and Syria,''' will, as this inclusion 
of such Syrian species as were known to the Commission intimates, supply much important 
information concerning this great division of animals which may elsewhere be sought in vain. 

Part of the twenty-third volume is occupied by M. Geoffroy St. Hilaire's description of the 
mammalia found in Egypt. This does not profess to include Syrian species ; but, as it is well 
known that a large proportion of the animals specified are common to Egypt and Palestine, 
much of this account is applicable to the mammalia of the latter country. 

The next article in the same volume gives the ornithology, by M. Savigny, under the title 
of ' Systeme des Oiseaux de l'Egypte et de la Syne.' This is rather a meagre list, and pro- 
fesses to form but part of a more extensive work. It, however, notices the principal birds 
known to exist, not only in Egypt, but in Palestine, which latter small country is of course not 
expected to offer any birds peculiar to itself. 

In the twenty-fourth volume M. Geoffroy St. Hilaire describes the reptiles found in Egypt ; 
and although we know that Palestine is less prolific of such creatures than Egypt, it is not 
known that the Holy Land contains any species which this account does not include. The 
memoirs on the fishes of the Nile, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean coast, is of peculiar 
value in a branch of our inquiry concerning which little information is elsewhere to be found. 
We may thus know what fish the Hebrews were likely to obtain from the Mediterranean ; 
and even an account of the fish of the Nile cannot fail, with due care, to be profitable, when 
we recollect the ancient report, preserved by Josephus, and corroborated by modern travellers, 
that the species of fish in the Sea of Galilee also exist in the Nile, whence it was anciently 
imagined that there was some subterraneous communication between the river and the lake. 

It will be seen from this statement that the ' Description de l'Egypte ' furnishes much in- 
formation of the sort we are seeking, supplied by some of the first men of our age. Consider- 
able information, suited to the illustration of the antiquities, arts, and customs of the Hebrews, 
might also be drawn from other parts of this great work, which has singularly been overlooked 
by writers on Palestine and the Jews. 

In an enumeration of this kind, it would be unpardonable to overlook Dr. Russel's ' Natural 
History of Aleppo.' It gives a far better account of the whole natural history, in every depart- 
ment, about Aleppo, than Hasselquist and all other authorities put together afford concerning 
Palestine ; and if any one had supplied a similar work concerning that country, little would 
have been left to desire. The district of Aleppo is, like Palestine, in Syria ; but that city being 
three degrees of latitude to the north of the Holy Land, and about one degree of longitude 
to the east of the parallel of the Jordan, some difference in its seasons and products, particu- 
larly its vegetable products, may be expected. And this expectation of difference will be 
increased when we consider that the district of Aleppo is much more elevated above the sea 
than any part of Palestine ; that although some parts of Palestine are equally distant from 
the Mediterranean, they are not like the Aleppo district, separated from that sea by ranges of 
high mountains. But the difference thus arising may be in some degree counterbalanced by 
the equalizing effect — upon all those parts of Syria not involved in the higher mountains, or 
situated close upon the coast — of the deserts of the east and south, which modify, to an extent 
not easily calculated, the effects which might be expected to result from difference of latitude 
and physical elevation. And looking to mere situation, without reference to the. difference of 
latitude, the northern part of Palestine, towards Lebanon, and the high plains east of the 
Jordan, might seem to be not very differently situated than the Aleppo district. Upon the 
whole, however, the temperature of Palestine must be some degrees higher than that of Aleppo 
— or intermediate between that of Aleppo and Egypt, or of Aleppo and Arabia; and it is of 
importance to find some general principles which may ascertain how much of Dr. Russel's 
account of the natural history of one part of Syria may be applicable to another. In the first 
place it is evident that, if we find in Palestine such products, animal or vegetable, as the Aleppo 
district affords, the account which Dr. Russel gives of them may, without hesitation, be adopted 
with respect to the zoological subjects, and also with respect to the botanical, but with more 
attention in this class to possibly modifying circumstances. The enumeration of species may 
also assist us to discover some of those found in Palestine which travellers have failed to 

Chap. I.] 



mention. For instance, we have lists for Aleppo, Egypt, and Arabia, that is, for countries 
between which Palestine is interposed. If we find a product in Egypt or in Arabia, we have 
no right to conclude that it is also in Palestine — their temperature being higher than that of 
the Holy Land : so in like manner, that a product is found in the Aleppo district offers us no 
reason to conclude that it is in Palestine, the Aleppo temperature being considerably lower; 
but if we find this product both in the higher and lower temperature, — if we find it not only 
in Egypt or Arabia, but also in Aleppo, we shall have some right to conclude that it is also 
afforded by Palestine, it being scarcely credible that so small a country should be surrounded 
on all sides by a product which it does not contain. And this conclusion will be strengthened 
ifv/e find this same product not only in Aleppo, and in Egypt or Arabia, the higher and lower 
temperatures, but also in Cyprus, the temperature of which is intermediate, and very similar 
to that of Palestine. This is the only assumption under which we can use the valuable 
materials of Russel's ' Natural History of Aleppo ' as collated with those which the ' Descrip- 
tion de l'Egypte,' Forskal, Mariti, and others, offer concerning the products of Egypt, Arabia, 
and Cyprus. The assumption, thus guarded, is far more modest than any which former 
writers, on the subjects before us, have taken; and, moderate as it is, we shall be most 
reluctant to resort to it, and trust that the success which has rewarded our perseverance in 
rooting up information concerning the actual products of Palestine will leave us but small 
occasion to resort even to the assumption which we have thus carefully guarded. 

It was necessary to be particular in this explanation, that the very restricted use to which 
we propose to apply such materials as have been almost the exclusive reliance of previous 
writers, and which they have employed with little discrimination, may be clearly understood. 

In the preceding pages we have indicated a want, and pointed out the sources from which 
it might be, at least, partially supplied. This must not, however, lead to the expectation that 
the ensuing pages offer any pretensions adequately to supply the want we have indicated, 
though we are willing that it should be understood to point out what we conceive to be a 
better course of proceeding than any which we know to have been hitherto taken. It professes 
to be nothing more than a sketch, in which, after having traced the physical geography of 
the country, we shall proceed to enumerate its products in the several departments of nature. 
In this part we shall set down no article which has not been ascertained to exist in Palestine ; 
although, of course, such facts as it may be desirable to introduce, illustrative of the natural 
history and character of the same product, may, when necessary, be drawn from other 
countries. As there appears no adequate reason for connecting with the history of Palestine 
particular accounts of products which, although they exist there, are also widely diffused in 
other countries, such will very often be barely specified, while more particular attention may 
be given to those articles which are almost peculiar to Palestine or Syria, which there 
exhibit peculiar characteristics, or which, for any reason, were of peculiar interest or im- 
portance to the Jewish people. 


0) "Bochart," p. iv. — We feel that we 
shall be in great danger of seeming to do in- 
justice to some most deservedly eminent names, 
unless we again and again remind the reader 
that our inquiry is confined to a single object, 
in pursuit of which we cannot properly turn 
aside to admire any excellence but that for 
which we seek. We want distinct and positive 
facts for the natural history of Palestine ; and 
if we do not find these in the quarters most 
likely to supply them, or in the extent which 
might be expected, it would be quite beside 
the purpose for us to occupy our space in ex- 
plaining what other things, as good, perhaps, 

or better, but not suited to the required use, 
may in those quarters be found. 

These observations we may, with much pro- 
priety, connect with the name of Bochart, 
although there cannot be any persons who 
hold that name in higher honour than we do ; 
and we cannot let it pass without the addition 
of a few more remarks, which may further 
explain the view we take of such works, and 
exonerate us from any imputation of not ren- 
dering to a distinguished man the honour of 
which he is worthy. 

Bochart's ' Hierozoicon ' was a production of 
those days in which the entire labour of a 



[Chap. I. 

diligent life was often embodied in a single 
work. This was not exactly Bochart* s case, 
since he found leisure to produce other works ; 
but the ' Hierozoicon' is still the labour of 
thirty years; and the thirty years' labour of 
such a man as Bochart could not fail to pro- 
duce results worthy of all admiration and re- 
spect. With such sentiments the ' Hierozoicon' 
was regarded by Cuvier, who signalises it as the 
most perfect account which we possess of the 
knowledge of nature which existed among 
ancient nations. It is, in fact, a cyclopaedia of 
ancient natural history ; and as such it is indis- 
pensable to the natural historian, and possesses 
a character and value of its own, which no 
other work can supersede, and with which no 
other can interfere. The facts preserved in 
this work are often erroneous and doubtful: 
but it is a fact of the highest importance to 
know what the ancients or the orientals have 
stated on subjects of natural history ; and it is 
the circumstance that the work of Bochart has 
supplied, to the more practical natural his- 
torians of later days, all the information of this 
sort which they could want, which has main- 
tained its use and authority unimpaired. This, 
its permanent character, does not, as some 
mistakenly imagine, prove its value as a book 
of natural history, or show how much its 
author was, in the knowledge of nature, in 
advance of his age. On the contrary, the work 
is not the production of a natural historian, 
but is a work of learned research — a collection 
of old knowledge in natural things, the use 
and character of which remains unaffected by 
any advances which may have been made in 
the science of Nature. 

We have been anxious, this once, to show 
that we are not insensible to the general merits 
of writers, whose labours prove to be of less 
value for our limited purpose, than their pro- 
fessed object might lead one to expect. We 
think, indeed, that their mode of investigating 
natural history was partly a matter of necessity, 
arising from the scarcity of positive facts, and 
arose partly from the want of a proper appre- 
ciation of the value of such of these facts as did 
exist and might have been collected. Hence 
all work in natural history was considered to 
be accomplished, when all which the ancients 
had said was brought together ; and while the 
general result of this was curious, and, in many 
ways, useful, much harm was done,— at least, 
as it regards Palestine, — by the establishment 
of a precedent, with a special application to 
that country, which has been indiscriminately 
followed by later writers, notwithstanding the 
large number of positive and tangible facts 
which has gradually accumulated, and the 
greatly improved forms which all physical in- 

quiry has taken. Indeed, if the reader should 
take the trouble to examine these works, with 
this specific object in view, and notes how few 
of the adduced facts are derived directly from 
Palestine, and how little of the abundant in- 
formation is more than hypothetically appli- 
cable to that country, we suspect he may be 
led to doubt whether they have not done more 
harm than good for the natural history of 
Palestine, however highly he may be disposed 
to estimate their value in other respects. 

( z ) " Scheuchzer," p. vi. — The few persons 
whom we have known to possess copies of this 
superb work have seemed so very proud of it, 
and to entertain such exaggerated notions of 
its authority and value, that a few further 
remarks upon it may not be inexpedient. 

The plates, which are best in the Latin 
copies and worst in the French, form such a 
series of illustrations as very few other works 
possess, and are apt to dispose the spectator to 
annex an idea of value and importance to the 
text which they illustrate. But a cursory ex- 
amination, even of the plates, is quite enough 
to indicate that Scheuchzer's mind laboured 
under a considerable want of sound judgment 
and discretion. There is not a passage of Scrip- 
ture, having the least reference to any produc- 
tion of nature, any physical phenomenon or 
incident, or any operation in manufacture or 
art, which Scheuchzer does not undertake to 
illustrate by an engraving. The engravings 
thus brought together, form, what one of the 
biographers a of the author justly denominates 
un bizarre recueil. The same writer does not 
indicate the literary inadequacy of Scheuch- 
zer's work with sufficient clearness, but re- 
marks strongly on the plates. If the Bible, 
as he instances, mentions, in any passage, a 
quadruped or bird, the animal is designed in 
all sorts of positions and in very elaborate land- 
scapes : if the eye or the ear is mentioned, the 
plates hasten to show all the anatomical details 
of those organs. The engravings become, if 
possible, more useless still, considering the 
professed object for which they are introduced, 
and of the work to which they belong, when 
they not only represent ordinary circumstances, 
such as a combat, a sacrifice, or the anointing 
of a king, but even miraculous events, such 
as the descent of fire from heaven upon Sodom 
and Gomorrah, or the earth swallowing up 
Dathan and Abiram, or, finally, simple alle- 
gories or mere allusions, all of which are made 
the subjects of expensive and elaborate plates, 
under the sole pretext that they relate to 
natural objects. 

a Iu the ' Biographic Universelle.' 

Chap. I.] 



( 3 ) "Calmet," p. vi. — The singular work of 
Mr. Charles Taylor, to which the text refers, 
has connected so much confusion with all re- 
ference to Calmet's authority, that, in justice 
to ourselves and others, who have sometimes 
had occasion to annex to our statements the 
sanction of his eminent name, the following 
explanation may be given. 

The three great works which chiefly distin- 
guished the useful life of this learned and 
ingenious Benedictine were his Commentary, 
his Dictionary of the Bible, and his History of 
the Bible. The first of these bears the title of 
' Commentaire Litteral sur tous les Livres de 
l'Ancien et Nouveau Testament,' Paris, 1719 
— 1726, in nine vols, folio. This immense 
work, which is but little known in England, 
was pronounced by Dr. Adam Clarke to be 
" without exception the best comment on the 
sacred writings ever published ;" and this 
high measure of praise, understood as it was 
given, will scarcely seem exaggerated to those 
who have any actual knowledge of the work to 
which it is applied. This stupendous produc- 
tion comprehends a large number of Disserta- 
tions on a great variety of subjects belonging 
to sacred antiquities and criticism ; which were 
also published separately in three 4to. volumes. 
Soon after the appearance of these Disserta- 
tions, a very laudable attempt was made to ex- 
tend the benefit of their multitudinous inform- 
ation and extensive research to the English 
reader, by the publication of a portion, under 
the title of ' Antiquities, Sacred and Profane ;' 
but the work was never completed, and the 
volume then issued is now very difficult to 

Calmet's next great work, and that by which 
his name is alone popularly known in this 
country, was the ' Dictionnaire Historique, 
Chronologique, Geographique, et Litteral de la 
Bible,' Paris, 1730, 4 tomes, folio. This, which 
has formed the basis of all modern dictionaries 
of the Bible, was speedily presented to the 
English public by the Rev. S. D'Oyly, and the 
Rev. J. Colson, in three large folio volumes, 
illustrated by 160 capital engravings. This 
dictionary, although the most useful and popu- 
lar of Calmet's works, and novel in its plan, is 
little other than an alphabetical digest of the 
information which had already been given in 
the Commentary and Dissertations, omitting 
much valuable matter which those works con- 
tain, and adding something from the surplus 
materials which had been collected for them. 
This does not by any means detract from the 
value of the work, but explains the mode of 
its construction. Towards the end of the last 
century, D'Oyly and Colson's edition of Calmet 
had become scarce and costly, which sug- 

VOL. I. 

gested to Mr. Charles Taylor the advantage of 
putting forth a new edition ; and his method 
of performing this task was singular in the 
extreme. He first reduced the Dictionary by 
abridgment to about one -third of its original 
extent, so that it might be comprehended in 
two rather loosely-printed quarto volumes, and 
to these he added two other volumes, contain- 
ing much more matter than the abridged Dic- 
tionary, consisting of articles of various length, 
which he called 'Fragments,' on the antiquities, 
geography, natural history, and mythology of 
the Bible ; and the work was completed by a 
fifth volume, consisting of engravings, designed 
chiefly to illustrate the 'Fragments,' and con- 
taining few of those in Calmet's original work. 
This publication has acquired extensive and 
deserved popularity under the general name 
of ' Calmefs Dictionary of the Bible,' and by 
that title the writers who really cite Taylor's 
' Fragments' usually refer to the authority they 
have employed. The Dictionary portion of 
this edition is, indeed, seldom quoted, and is of 
small value compared with the original English 
edition of D'Oyly and Colson. Hence it cu- 
riously enough happens that the name of Cal- 
met is in this country associated with writings 
not his own, and which he could not have 
written ; while the English public is compara- 
tively ignorant of the real productions of this 
eminent man. Hence also a writer who now 
uses the name of Calmet, without careful dis- 
crimination, is at once supposed to be availing 
himself of Taylor's ingenious speculations. 
This mistaken notion has, we believe, been 
connected with the frequent references to 
' Calmet ' in the ' Pictorial Bible' by the author 
of the present work ; and to preclude its re- 
currence, it may be proper to explain that 
wherever the 'Fragments' are cited by him, 
they are ascribed to their proper author, " Tay- 
lor," not " Calmet ;*' and that such references 
rarely occur is because the ' Fragments ' were 
almost never consulted in the progress of that 
undertaking. This was not from any dispo- 
sition to undervalue those ingenious and often 
instructive papers, but from the feeling that 
the facts which they contain have so often and 
in such various forms been presented to the 
English reader, that they had become fami- 
liarly known, and needed not to be repeated. 
The greater portion of the facts and opinions 
quoted by us under the name of Calmet have 
been derived from the ' Dissertations,' as they 
appear, in an improved and corrected form, 
in the fourth edition of the ' Bible de Vence.' a 
The notes in the folio ' Commentaire ' also 
supplied some valuable facts, and the Dic- 

a Twenty-five tomes, 8vo. Paris, 1820—1824. 




[Chap. I. 

tionary was occasionally consulted in the com- 
plete edition of D'Oyly and Colson. While 
this explanation has a primary reference to 
the ' Pictorial Bible,' it is not unsuitably here 
introduced, as it will serve to distinguish the 
references to Calmet and Taylor, respectively, 
which the present work may contain. 

The same writer's 'History of the Bible' 3 
is a plain and useful performance, perfectly 
trust-worthy, but no Avise remarkable, unless 
for the very absence of that learned and cu- 
rious research which distinguishes all Calmet's 
other works. The preface declares that this 
character was purposely given to a produc- 
tion intended for the instruction of plain 
readers, and in which it was judged desirable 
to imitate the brevity and precision of Abbe 

a ' Histoire de l'Ancien et Nouveau Testament, et des Juifs, 
pour servir d' Introduction a l'Histoire Ecclesiastique de M. 
l'Abbe Fleury, 4 tomes, 4to., Paris, 1735.' So our copy is 
dated, but there were prior editions. 

Fleury, to whose ' Ecclesiastical History ' 
was designed to form an introduction. 


( 4 ) " Boucher," p. ix. — For the benefit of 
the curious in title-pages, we preserve that 
which Boucher has prefixed to his curious 
performance :— " Le Bouquet Sacre, ou le 
Voyage de la Terre- Sainte, compose des roses 
du Calvaire, des lis de Bethleem, des hyacintes 
du Mont Rivet, et de plusieurs autres pensees 
de la Terre-Sainte, par le P. Boucher, frere- 
mineur-observantin. Rouen, 1698." Of a piece 
with this is the equally irreverent and absurd 
dedication of the work — " Au Roi des Rois 
Jesus eternel," etc. — " Et a tres-sainte et tres- 
puissante princesse Marie, epouse du Pere 
eternel, mere du Fils tout puissant, sacre temple 
du Saint-Esprit, Imperatrice des anges, Avo- 
cate des pecheurs et brise-tete du serpent 

[Crusaders approaching Jerusalem.] 



[Scene in Mountains of Gilead — Ruins of Jerash.] 

Palestine, the country in which were transacted the important events which it is the object 
of the ensuing history to record, is a small territory on the western borders of Asia, frontino- 
the Mediterranean, being the south-eastern portion of Syria. On the north this territory is 
bounded by the Lebanon mountains ; but its southern border is lost in the open desert which 
separates Palestine from Egypt, and which formed a kind of neutral ground between them. 
As, however, it is necessary to take some line of boundary here, in order that the length of 
the country from north to south may be stated, it cannot be far wrong to draw it from the 
stream of El Arish (supposed to be the scriptural " River of Egypt"), eastward to a point 
about 25 geographical miles south of the Dead Sea, on the borders of that valley which 
extends between that Sea and the Gulf of Akaba. Assuming this southern boundary, and 
fixing the northern one at the parallel of the stream which flows from Lebanon into the sea 
about five miles to the north of Sidon, Palestine will appear to be comprehended between 
30° 40', and 33° 36' of northern latitude ; and the length of a line drawn from the northern 
line to the southern, through the centre of the country, will not be less than 180 miles. 

The eastern border of Palestine is well defined, in nearly a straight line, by the river 
Jordan and its lakes ; but the opposite border, that of the sea-coast, spreads out to the south- 
south-west, whereby the width of this strip of country gradually increases southward, so that, 
on arriving near the southern border, the breadth of the land is found to be about thrice as 
great as in the uttermost north. The line of extreme breadth is embraced between 33° 45', 

e 2 


and 35° 30' of eastern longitude, being, in that latitude, 92 geographical miles ; but the least 
breadth of this territory in the north does not exceed 20 miles, and the average breadth cannot 
be overstated at about 50 miles. 

This is the proper Palestine, the land of Canaan, the Holy Land, the land of Promise. 
But, for historical purposes, it is quite necessary that the first of these names should be under- 
stood to include the domains beyond the Jordan which were as much in the occupation of the 
Hebrew people, and belong as much to their history, as the territory west of that river. 
This inclusion will give to Palestine the districts of Argob and of Bashan, of Gilead, and 
the country south to the river Arnon, which formed the northern frontier of Moab. With 
this enlargement, the length of the country, regarded as a whole, is not increased ; and the 
line of extreme breadth may still be sought in the south. A view of the map, however, shows 
that the average breadth now bears a much higher proportion than in the separate measure- 
ment of the western country. There the extreme breadth is little more than an accident of 
the southern boundary line, and the average breadth bears no proportion to it : but now, in 
viewing the whole together, giving the country an addition of breadth in its narrowest part, 
and none in its widest, the previous disproportion between the extreme and the average 
measurements becomes greatly reduced; and this result is obtained by the increase in the 
latter, while the former remains the same. 

Taking this larger view of the country, the resulting effect will be that its length remains 
at 180 miles, but its average breadth is increased to about 65 miles. We have also endea- 
voured to form some estimate of the superficial extent of the whole country, and find room to 
calculate it at about 11,000 geographical square miles. This does not give a superficial extent 
equal to one-fourth of England (with Wales), or more than two-fifths of Scotland, Ireland, or 
Portugal. Bavaria and Sardinia offer an area about twice as large ; that of Denmark is about 
one-third larger : but, according to the estimate we have made, the area of Palestine is nearly 
double that of Wales, Wirtemberg, or Tuscany. Thus, as to mere extent, the country can 
only be compared to some of the smaller European states, of which Hanover, Belgium, Swit- 
zerland, the Papal States, and the island of Sicily appear to offer the nearest approximation. 
But the real surface is much greater than this estimate and these comparisons would imply : 
for Palestine being essentially a hilly country, the sides of the mountains and slopes of the 
hills enlarge the actual surface to an extent which does not admit of calculation. 

But, with all allowances, Palestine remains so small a country, that undue importance might 
seem to be given to it by the extent to which its history is carried, did we not bear in mind 
that a country only gives a name to the history of the men by whom it has been occupied — 
that it is a history of human conduct and passion, of human hearts and minds, the operations 
of which may be as impressively and importantly developed, and generally are more so, on a 
small arena as on one that is large. It is this which, in ancient and modern history, has given 
importance to the histories of spots as small as, or even smaller than, Palestine. It is, perhaps, 
because the springs of human action in such cases are more clearly displayed, and that all 
the moving personages of one time are seen in circumstances of real collision or comparison, 
acting with or acting upon each other — that he takes up history as a part of the study of man, 
seldom thinks of seeking instruction but where the principles of human action are exhibited 
with concentrated effect, either through the physical necessities of a confined territory, or by 
the moral action of a representative government. All history, ancient or modern, conveys true 
instruction or not, or is really interesting or not, in proportion as, from the one or the other of 
these causes, the spirit and policy of the people of which it treats are concentratively displayed. 
This is not a hypothesis, but a fact, which any one has the power to verify, by observing that 
the history of no country is deemed of much interest, or is by any means an object of popular 
study, to which this rule does not apply ; and that the real interest we take in the history of 
a country begins or ceases with the production or discontinuance of this concentrative effect. 
Without this, history is but a continued tale of wrong and outrage ; or but a succession of 
biographies of " great" men, which offer individual, not national, portraits, and which, 
although they may be interesting as individual portraitures, do really, by occupying the field 
of view, exclude from notice those national developments which are the verities of history, and 

Chap. II.] MOUNTAINS. xxix 

which give to the history of a nation all those characteristic distinctions by which its real 
interest is constituted. 

Seeing, then, that the importance and interest of a history is not to be estimated by the 
physical extent of the country, or the numbers of the people to which it refers, it seems to us 
that nothing can be more unphilosophical than the cavils of those so-called " philosophers " 
who have been wont to sneer at the importance which has been assigned to so narrow a terri- 
tory as Palestine, and to so small a people as the Hebrew nation. And equally have those 
been mistaken, who have sought to meet these objections by magnifying the extent of the 
Hebrew dominion, and the numbers of the Hebrew people. 

These observations concede the supposition that the History of Palestine must be esti- 
mated by the same rules as other histories. But this is not the fact. In so far as it in- 
cludes the history of the Hebrew people, it is the most peculiar of histories ; — it is a history 
of the intercourse between heaven and earth during a long series of ages ; — it is the history of 
that religion which was the destined precursor of the Christian system ; — it is the history of one 
great act through the successive stages of its progress and development, — God himself being 
the Author of that act, the Jews the agents of its operation, and Palestine the country selected 
for its exhibition. Besides, this history has what no other history ever could possess, — a 
visible design and object from beginning to end. One marked portion of this design has been 
accomplished, and with its accomplishment the House of Israel ceased to be a nation ; the 
other portion is now fulfilling, and the great result, now shadowed forth in dark prophecies, 
remains a subject for future histories. 

Thus, in every way, the history of Palestine, in all that it comprehends, is really the most 
generally important while it is the most peculiar of histories. And if it had been possible that 
the circumstances which it embraces should have taken place in some small valley among the 
mountains, never inhabited by more than a hundred people, the history of that valley and that 
people would be the most important that was ever written. 

Palestine itself necessarily thus becomes of great interest, from its connection with these 
circumstances, from the associations which result from this connection, and from the various 
lore which has been brought to bear on all its characteristics. The country which God 
specially set apart for his great designs, and which, in consequence, contains no spot of ground 
on which some commissioned angel has not trod, or which does not suggest some incident in 
the histories of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, priests and kings, whose names supply the 
familiar links by which our minds measure old times, — excites a peculiar interest in us, scarcely 
inferior to that with which our own native land is regarded. 

But even considered in itself, Palestine is a country, small though it be, well worthy of 
attention, and in some respects as peculiar as the people whose history is inseparably con- 
nected with it. It does not, like most other small countries, constantly remind you that it is 
physically but part of a larger country, from which it is but conventionally separated ; but it 
is a complete country — a compact, distinct, and well-proportioned territory. It offers, as it 
were, an epitome of all the physical features by which different countries are distinguished, and 
which very few possess in combination. It has its lofty mountains, its stern rocky wilder- 
nesses, and its smiling hills ; it has its pleasant valleys, its wide plains, and elevated plateaus ; 
and while on the one hand it presents an extended sea-coast, with its harbours, beaches, cliffs, 
and promontories, on the other the solitary deserts extend their inhospitable wastes of sand. 
The principal river of this country, and the smaller streams, the large inland lakes — one of 
them so remarkable in its characteristics, — the hot springs, and the various volcanic indi- 
cations, complete the singularly varied natural attributes of this " glory of all lands." 

While these remarks apply to our general subject, they may not unsuitably introduce that 
division of it to which they are prefixed — the Physical History of Palestine. 

To form a clear idea of the geographical plan of Palestine we must extend our view consider- 
ably beyond and around it. Northward, that view must take in Ccele-Syria and the region of 
Lebanon ; eastward, it must embrace the plains and mountains of the Haouran, and the lands 
of Moab and Ammon ; and southward, it must overlook the inheritance of Edom and the 


wilderness of Paran, and must penetrate even into the peninsula of Sinai. And this extension 
of the survey, while it is geographically necessary, is also historically convenient j for the 
regions thus indicated have not only a kind of secondary importance throughout the history, 
hut were all, for a season, subject to the Hebrew sceptre. 

Thus, while there are many questions even in this Physical History which will require us 
to confine our view to the narrow bounds of Palestine, there are others which will allow us 
to commence our survey where — 

" Hoar Lebanon, majestic, to the winds, 
Chief of a hundred hills, his summit rears, 
Unshrouded — ' ' 

and permit it to include, as we continue our progress, — 

" By Jordan south, 
Whate'er the desert's yellow arms embrace ; 
Rich Gilead, Idumea's palmy plain, 
And Judah's olive hills; thence onward those 
Cliff-guarded eyries, desert bound, whose height 
Mock'd the proud eagles of rapacious Rome, 
The fam'd Petrsean citadels ; till last 
Rise the lone peaks, by Heav'n's own glory crown'd, 
Sinai on Horeb piled." a 

Palestine is so involved among the southward continuations of Lebanon as to take the cha- 
racter of a mountainous country, affording, however, some considerable plains, and numerous 
valleys, the principal of which will hereafter demand our separate attention. This fact brings 
us at once to the application of the considerations which we have just stated, and compels 
us to follow the track of survey which has been indicated : for any one who glances at the 
map will at once see that the mountains of Palestine form but a section of a great system of 
mountains, which commences on the north long before we reach the Promised Land, and which 
is prolonged to the south long after we have left it. And if, in scientific strictness, this en- 
larged view were not necessary in a history of Palestine, yet it is to be remembered that this 
is not only a history of Palestine, but of the Jews; and the renown of the mountains of 
Horeb, Seir, and Lebanon, in their history, would still render most desirable their inclusion 
in this part of our work. 

That the mountain framework of Syria is such as to authorise the view we have taken is 
shown by Volney, in a passage which will very suitably introduce the description we are to 
furnish : — 

" If we examine a map of Syria, we may observe that this country is in some measure 
only a chain of mountains, which distribute themselves in various directions from one leading 
branch ; and such in fact is the appearance it presents, whether we approach it from the side 
of the sea, or by the immense plains of the desert. We first discover, at a great distance, a 
clouded ridge, which runs north and south as far as the sight extends ; and, as we advance, 
distinguish the summits of mountains, which, sometimes detached and sometimes united in 
chains, uniformly terminate in one principal line which overtops them all : we may follow 
this line without interruption from its entry by the north quite into Arabia. It first runs close 
to the sea, between Alexandretta and the Orontes, and, after opening a passage to that river, 
continues its course to the southward, quitting for a short distance the shore, and in a chain 
of continued summits stretches as far as the sources of the Jordan, where it separates into 
two branches, to enclose, as it were, in a basin this river and its three lakes. In its course it 
detaches from this line, as from a main trunk, an infinity of ramifications, some of which lose 
themselves in the desert, where they form various inclosed hollows, such as those of Damascus 
and Haouran, while others advance towards the sea, where they frequently end in steep de- 
clivities, such as Carmel, Nakoura, Cape Blanco, and in almost the whole country between 
Beirout and Tripoli of Syria ; but in general they gently terminate in plains, such as those of 
Antioch, Tripoli, Tyre, and Acre." 

It appears to us that Volney considers this principal Syrian chain, which he so correctly 

a ' Lebanon,' A Poem. 

Chap. II.] MOUNTAINS. xxxi 

describes, as a branch from the great chain of Taurus, which we have ourselves been accus- 
tomed to regard as the root of all the mountains which fill the south-west of Asia. Malte 
Brun, however, is of a different opinion, and as we do not like to disagree with him without 
absolute necessity, and as, moreover, we are bent on avoiding questions of merely theoretical 
geography, we shall be content to repeat his statement, only observing that we see no reason 
why a break, made by even the wide valley of a river, should necessarily be considered to destroy 
all connection between the opposite mountains. Malte Brun's observation is, — " The mountains 
are not at all ramifications of Mount Taurus. Mount Rossus, a prolongation of Amanus, 
terminates at the valley of the Orontes. But the proper Syrian chain begins on the soutli of 
Antioch, by the huge peak of Mount Cassius, which shoots up to the heavens its needle-like 
point, encircled with forests." 

The continuation of these mountains southward gives occasion to remark, as Volney states, 
that the main chain separates near the sources of the Jordan into two branches, to enclose, 
as in a basin, that river and its lakes. These two branches, with their numerous ramifications, 
constitute the mountains of Palestine on both sides of the Jordan. The country to the south 
of the Dead Sea was too little known in the time of Volney to enable him to trace the con- 
tinuation and termination of these two ranges beyond the southern extremity of the Dead Sea. 
His map makes the western range approach nearer to the eastern at this point ; and it then 
continues to proceed in this closer proximity, parallel with it, southward, for about forty 
miles, when it suddenly strikes westward, joining the eastern range, and shutting up, as in a 
cul de sac, the valley which they had hitherto enclosed between them. But, in reality, the 
valley remains open, and the two ranges continue to run parallel to each other unto the 
Gulf of Akaba, where they separate, the one taking the eastern coast of that gulf, and opposing 
its terminating promontories to the Red Sea at the point where that gulf opens. The other 
takes the western side of the same gulf, entering the peninsula of Sinai, which divides this 
gulf from that of Suez. Here it may be considered to terminate, most grandly, near the point 
of the peninsula, in those renowned mountains at whose foot the shepherd Moses was feeding 
his flock when the Most High called him to lead forth the Hebrew nation from their bondage 
in Egypt ; and from whose highest top He afterwards made known his law to the same people. 

Thus, in an enlarged point of view, the mountains of Anti- Lebanon, dividing in the north of 
Palestine, send forth two southward branches, which between them enclose not only the basin 
of the Jordan and Dead Sea, but that of the broad valley which extends from that sea to the 
^Elanitic Gulf, and of the gulf itself, — the whole extent being not less than 340 geographical 

This view, in its natural connections, of the mountain system of Palestine, from its root in 
Lebanon to its termination at the opening of the Gulf of Akaba, will tend much to simplify 
our further task by supplying a combination for those conspicuous parts which must now, 
severally, engage our attention, that we may observe more closely the natural character of 
those mountains, the forms they bear, and the ornament with which they are invested. 

The mountains of Syria, as they vary their levels and situations, are also greatly changed 
in their form and appearance. In the northern portion, between Scanderoon and the valley of 
the Orontes, the firs, larches, oaks, box-trees, laurels, yews, and myrtles with which they 
abound, give them an air of liveliness with which the traveller is delighted. On some declivities 
he even meets with cottages environed with fig-trees and vineyards, and the sight of these 
repays the fatigues he has endured on a road which, by rugged paths, leads him from the 
bottom of valleys to the tops of hills, and from the tops of hills to the bottoms of valleys. 
The inferior branches, which extend to the northward of Aleppo, on the contrary, present 
nothing but bare rocks, without earth or verdure. 

That part of the range of mountains which extends, through two degrees of latitude, from 
Mount Cassius southward to Lebanon, offers, on its seaward slopes, a soil and situation suitable 
for the growth of vines, olives, and tobacco ; but on the eastern side — that of the desert — the 
summits and declivities of this chain present the aspect of almost one continued series of white 
and barren rocks. 


About the parallel of Tripoli (lat. 34° 28' N.) we come to the commencement of two parallel 
ranges which extend through about one degree of latitude. They form at their termination 
the natural frontier of Palestine, and enclose between them a fertile valley which has the 
average breadth of fifteen miles. These are the mountains of Lebanon; and the valley 
which lies between them is the Hollow Syria (Ccele-Syria) of the ancients ; but by the present 
inhabitants is called, pre-eminently, El Bekka, or the valley. The westernmost of these ranges 
gradually inclines toward the sea, and terminates at the mouth of the Leontes, near the 
renowned city of Tyre ; while the more inland range is that which, as already described, 
divides near the sources of the Jordan, to enclose on the west and east the prolonged basin 
which contains the Jordan and its lakes, and the valley and gulf of Akaba. The denomination 
of Lebanon is applied in Scripture, and by the ancient Orientals, to both, or indifferently to 
either, of the parallel ranges which enclose the long valley of Ccele-Syria; but the Syrian 
Greeks gave the name of Anti-Libanus to the easternmost range, which overlooks the plains of 
Damascus. This name, although affording a distinction which is useful in precise description, 
has been so arbitrarily employed by some of the old historians, as to occasion some confusion, 
the rectification of which has involved much unprofitable discussion, into which we need 
not enter. 

The present natives of the country have found the convenience of distinguishing the two 
ranges by different names, Anti-Libanus they call the eastern mountain (Jebel Essharki), in 
opposition to Libanus, which they call the western (Jebel el Gharbi), but to which they also 
assign the ancient name in the form of Jebel Libnan. a 

The mountains of Lebanon are by far the highest of the whole range. The highest ridge 
of the western Lebanon is marked on both sides by a line, drawn at the distance of two hours' 
journey from the summit, above which all is barren ; but the slopes and valleys below this 
mark afford pasturage, and are capable of cultivation, by virtue of the numerous springs which 
are met with in all directions. Cultivation is, however, chiefly found on the seaward slopes, 
where numerous villages flourish, and every inch of ground is turned to account by the 
industrious natives, who, in the absence of natural levels, build terraces to level the ground, 
and to prevent the earth from being swept down by the winter rains, and at the same time 
to retain the water requisite for the irrigation of their crops. b Here, amid the crags of the 
rocks, are also to be seen the supposed remains of the renowned cedars, but a much greater 
number of firs, oaks, brambles, mulberry trees, figs, and vines. c 

The general elevation of Anti-Libanus is inferior to that of the western range ; but about 
its southward termination, where it divides to send its branches east and west of the Jordan, 
the ridge rises loftily and overtops all the other summits of Lebanon. This highest mountain 
of the region bears the distinct name of Jebel Essheikh, and is, unquestionably, the Mount 
Hermon, the perpetual snow of whose far-seen summit is more than once alluded to by the 
sacred writers. ( l ) Our information concerning Anti-Libanus generally is less complete than 
that which we possess respecting the parallel range. We know, however, that it has fewer 
inhabitants, and is scarcely anywhere cultivated. Indeed, it is not equally cultivable : for it 
would appear, from a comparison of the dispersed notices in Burckhardt, that its western 
declivities towards the great valley of Baalbec (Ccele-Syria), are completely barren, without 
trees or pasture ; but on the summits and on the eastern side, facing the plains of Damascus, 
there appear at least to be parts affording good pasturage, and abounding also in stunted oak- 
trees, of which few are higher than from twelve to fifteen feet. The common route across 
these mountains, from Baalbec to Damascus, at one time ascends into the region of snow (in 
March) ; at another, follows the direction of the mountain torrents, between parallel lines of 
hills, by the side of aspens, of oaks, and numerous willows by the water-courses.* 1 

Leaving now the mountains of Lebanon, and following the branch which passes into Palestine, 
we observe that the mountains become less high and rugged, and more fit for tillage. They 
rise again to the south-east of Mount Carmel, are covered with woods, and afford most pleasant 
prospects ; but as we advance towards Judea, they lose their verdure, the valleys grow nar- 

a Burckhardt's * Syria,' p. 4. b Burckhardt, pp. 19, 20, 23. c Volney, vol. i. p. 272. 

d Burckhardt, iv. 15. Elliot, ii. 2/6. 

Chap. II.] 



rower, they become dry and stony, and form at the Dead Sea a pile of desolate rocks, full of 
caverns and precipices. a 

There appears to be considerable general resemblance in the progressive characteristics of 
the mountain chains of both the east and west, as far as the southern extremity of the Asphaltic 
Lake, if not farther. But as we shall, in another part of this chapter, consider, somewhat 
at large, the mountains of the eastern country, we shall not dwell on this matter now. 

The preceding view has been too rapid to include those descriptive details which are of the 
most interest to the general reader, or to notice those particular eminences which claim con- 
sideration, either from their prominent importance among the physical characteristics of the 
country, or from their connection with some of the events which the history of Palestine 
records. Commencing, therefore, again with Lebanon, we shall proceed from thence south- 
ward, noticing the principal mountains which occur first in the west and then on the east of 
the Jordan. 

We are glad that this arrangement enables us to introduce Volney's correct and animated 
description of Lebanon, which we now give in his own words : — 

" Lebanon, which gives its name to the whole extensive chain of the Kesraoun and the 
country of the Druses, presents us everywhere with majestic mountains. At every step we 

[Distant view of Lebanon.] 

meet with scenes in which nature displays either beauty or grandeur. When we land on the 
coast, the loftiness and steep ascent of this mountainous ridge, which seems to enclose the 
country, those gigantic masses which shoot into the clouds, inspire astonishment and awe. 
Should the anxious traveller then climb those summits which bounded his view, the wide- 
extended space which he discovers becomes a fresh subject of admiration. But completely to 
enjoy this majestic scene, must he ascend to the very point of Lebanon, or the Sannin. 
There, on every side, he will view an horizon without bounds ; while in clear weather the sight 
is lost over the desert which extends to the Persian Gulf, and over the sea which bathes the 
coasts of Europe. He seems to command the whole world, while the w andering eye, now 

Volney, vol. i. p. 272. 

VOL. I. 


surveying the successive chains of mountains, transports the imagination in an instant from 
Antioch to Jerusalem ; and now approaching the surrounding objects, observes the distant 
profundity of the coast, till the attention, at length fixed by distincter objects, more minutely 
examines the rocks, woods, torrents, hill-sides, villages and towns ; and the mind secretly 
exults at the diminution of things which formerly appeared so great. He contemplates the 
valley, obscured by stormy clouds, with a novel delight, and smiles at hearing the thunder, 
which had so often burst over his head, growling beneath his feet; while the threatening 
summits of the mountain are diminished till they appear like the furrows of a ploughed field, 
or the steps of an amphitheatre ; and he feels himself flattered by an elevation above so many 
great objects, on which pride makes him look down with a secret satisfaction. 

" When the traveller visits the interior parts of these mountains, the ruggedness of the 
roads, the steepness of the descents, the height of the precipices, strike him at first with 
terror; but the sagacity of his mule soon relieves him, and he examines at leisure those 
picturesque scenes which succeed each other to entertain him. There, as in the Alps, he 
travels whole days to such a place that was in sight at his departure : he winds, he descends, 
he skirts the hills, he climbs ; and in this perpetual change of position it seems as if some 
magic power varied for him at every step the decorations of the scenery. Sometimes he sees 
villages as if ready to glide from the steep declivities on which they are built, and so disposed, 
that the terraced roofs of one row of houses serve as a street to the row above them. Some- 
times he sees a convent standing on a solitary eminence, like Mar Shaya, in the valley of the 
Tigris. Here is a rock perforated by a torrent, and becoming a natural arch, like that of 
Nahr el Leben. a There another rock, worn perpendicular, resembles a lofty wall. Frequently 
on the sides of hills he sees beds of stones stripped and detached by the waters, rising up like 
artificial ruins. In many places, the waters, meeting with inclined beds, have undermined the 
intermediate earth, and formed caverns, as at Nahr el Kelb, near Antoura ; in others are 
formed subterraneous channels, through which flow rivulets for a part of the year, as at Mar 
Elias el Roum and Mar Hanna ; b but these picturesque situations sometimes become tragical. 
From thaws and earthquakes, rocks have been known to lose their equilibrium, roll down 
upon the adjacent houses, and bury the inhabitants : such an accident happened about twenty 
years ago, and overwhelmed a whole village near Mar-djordjos, without leaving a single trace 
to discover where it formerly stood. Still more lately, and near the same spot, a whole hill 
side, covered with mulberry trees and vines, was detached by a sudden thaw, and sliding down 
the declivity of the rock, was launched altogether, like a ship from the stocks, into the valley. 
Hence arose a whimsical but reasonable litigation, between the proprietor of the original 
ground and the owner of the emigrated land ; the cause was brought before the emir Yousef, 
who indemnified both parties for their mutual losses. It might be expected that such acci- 
dents would disgust the inhabitants of those mountains ; but, besides that they are rare, they 
are compensated by an advantage which makes them prefer their habitations to the most 
fertile plains : I mean the security they enjoy from the oppressions of the Turks. This 
security is esteemed so valuable a blessing by the inhabitants, that they have displayed an 
industry on those rocks which we may elsewhere look for in vain. By dint of art and labour 
they have compelled a rocky soil to become fertile. Sometimes, to profit by the water, they 
conduct it by a thousand windings along the declivities, or stop it by forming dams in the 
valleys : while in other places they prop up ground, ready to crumble away, by walls and 
terraces. Almost all these mountains, thus laboured, present the appearance of a flight of 
stairs, each step of which is a row of vines or mulberry trees. I have reckoned from 100 to 
120 of these gradations in the same declivity, from the bottom of the valley to the top of the 

If the traveller seeks on the northern shores of the Lake of Gennesareth for the ruins of 
Capernaum, that city " once exalted unto heaven," but now utterly " cast down," and pauses 
in his search to survey the mountains by which the lake is inclosed, he observes to the north 

a Or " River of Milk." It falls into the Nahr el Salib, called also the River of Beirout : this arch is upwards ofl60 feet long, 
85 wide, and near 200 high above the torrent. 

*> " These subterraneous rivulets are common throughout Syria. There are some at Damascus, at the sources of the Orontei, 
and at those of the Jordan.'* The last we shall soon have occasion to notice. 

Chap. II.] 



of him, hill rising above hill in beauteous succession, and that the loftiest visible eminence is 
crowned by a castellated city, whose commanding situation is, perhaps, unrivalled in the world. 
If this strange prospect tempts his feet to the ascent, he is surprised to find the task less 
arduous than he had anticipated. Gradually one mountain after another is left below ; and at 
last he arrives at a pyramidal hill which overtops them all, and on the extreme summit of 
which the city stands. This city now bears the name of Safet, and is thought to represent 
the Bethulia of which so much mention is made in the Book of Judith ; and it is also, with 
very sufficient probability, supposed to be that city to which Jesus Christ, when preaching in 
this neighbourhood his famous Sermon on the Mount, directed the attention of his audience, 
when he reminded them that "a city set on a hill cannot be hid." a ( 2 ) The elevation of the 
mountain attracts the clouds, and at Safet rains are frequent. 

Mount Tabor is the highest mountain in Lower Galilee, and one of the most striking in 
the Holy Land. It stands at the north-east of the great plain of Esdraelon ; and although 

. . ■ ■ ■ - ■ 

[Mount Tabor.] 

surrounded by chains of mountains on nearly all sides, it is the only one that stands entirely 
aloof from its neighbours, although it appears to us questionable whether it may not itself be 
regarded as the bold termination of a branch thrown out by the chain which encloses on the 
west the Lake of Tiberias. There is such a branch, and the connection between it and this 
mountain appears to be very close. 

The figure of Mount Tabor approaches that of a semisphere, and offers a very regular 
appearance. Its ground figure is usually described as round, and, indeed, seems to be per- 
fectly so to those coming from the midst of the great plain or from the Sea of Galilee ; but it 
is really somewhat more long (from east to west) than broad, so that its true figure inclines to 
oval. This is most clearly seen when the mountain is viewed from the hills of Nazareth. 
The height of Mount Tabor has been loosely guessed not to exceed 1000 feet above the level of 
the plain ; but it has not been subjected to any accurate measurement, nor have its dimen- 

Matt. v. 14. 

f 2 


sions been stated with reference to any other standard than that of time. From this it appears 
to take three hours to travel round the base of the mountain; that an hour is generally required 
to reach the summit by a circuitous path, but that the ascent may be accomplished in three- 
quarters of an hour, or even half an hour by a forced exertion ; and that the plain upon the 
top of the mountain is almost half an hour in circuit. 

The mountain is inaccessible except on the north, where the ascent offers so little difficulty 
that there are few parts which suggest to the traveller the prudence or necessity of dismounting 
from his horse. This remarkable mountain offers so rare a combination of the bold and beau- 
tiful, that pilgrims of all ages have expatiated upon its glories with untiring wonder and 
delight. The trees of various species, a and the bushes always green, with which it is invested, 
and the small groves with which it is crowned, contribute no less than its figure to its perfect 
beauty. Ounces, wild boars, gazelles and hares are among the animals which find shelter in 
its more wooded parts ; while the trees are tenanted by " birds of every wing," whose 
warblings and motions beguile the fatigue of the ascent. " The path," says a late traveller, 
" wound around the mountain, and gave us a view from all its different sides, every step pre- 
senting something new, and more and more beautiful, until all was completely forgotten and 
lost in the exceeding loveliness of the view from the summit. Stripped of every association, 
and considered merely as an elevation commanding a view of unknown valleys and mountains, 
I never saw a mountain which, for beauty of scene, better repaid the toil of ascending it." 

The objects which are embraced by " the view from the top," thus admiringly alluded to 
by Mr. Stephens, have been carefully enumerated by the Rev. C. B. Elliot in a passage which 
we here introduce, as calculated to give a very useful idea of the relative bearing of different 
mountains seen from this great central point. " The view it commands," he says, " is magni- 
ficent. To the north, in successive ranges, are the mountains of Galilee, backed by the 
mighty Lebanon ; and Safet, as always, stands out in prominent relief. To the north-east is 
the Mount of Beatitudes, with its peculiar outline and interesting associations ; behind which 
rise Great Hermon, and the whole chain of Anti-Lebanon. To the east are the hills of the 
Haouran, and the country of the Gadarenes, below which the eye catches a glimpse of the 
Lake of Tiberias, while to the south-east it crosses the valley of the Jordan, and rests on 
the high land of Bashan. Due south rise the mountains of Gilboa, and behind them those of 
Samaria, stretching far to the west. On the south-south-west the villages of Endor and Nain 
are seen on the Little Hermon. Mount Carmel and the Bay of Acre appear on the north-west 
[west by north ?] ; and towards them flows, through the fertile plains of Esdraelon, ' that 
great river, the river Kishon,' now dwindled into a little stream. Each feature in this 
prospect is beautiful : the eye and mind are delighted ; and, by a combination of objects and 
associations unusual to fallen man, earthly scenes, which more than satisfy the external sense, 
elevate the soul to heavenly contemplations." 

The beautiful upper plain is inclosed by a wall, — probably the same which was built by 
Josephus, when governor of Galilee, — and contains some ruins, which are probably those of 
the two monasteries which, according to William of Tyre, were built here by Godfrey of 
Bouillon, in the place of others of earlier date which the Moslems had destroyed. The plain 
has at different times been under cultivation ; but when, from oppression or fear, abandoned 
by the cultivator, it becomes a table of rich grass and wild flowers, which send forth a most 
refreshing and luxurious odour. In summer the dews fall copiously on Tabor, and a strong 
wind blows over it all day. Thick clouds rest upon its head every morning, and do not dis- 
appear till noon. 

The mountain is the scene of some historical circumstances, which it will be our future duty 
to record ; but its chief interest to the Christian pilgrim arises from the very old tradition 
which points it out as the place where Christ appeared in glory with Moses and Elias. b 

Beyond Mount Tabor, five miles to the south-south-west, a range of hills extends for several 
miles from east to west. This range is of no considerable elevation, and is fertile and proper 
for pasturage. At its foot there are some natural caves, formerly used for sepulchres, but in 

a Burckhardt says chiefly oak and wild pistachios. * Syria,' p. 334. 

b Nau, 623-9; Morison, 208-17; Burckhardt, 332-6 ; Stephens, ii. 317-19 ; Elliot, ii. 364. 

Chap. II] 



which the Arabs now stable their horses. The range claims to be noticed, as it is commonly 
regarded as the " Mount Hermon" which the Psalmist celebrates for its pastures and abundant 


'■■■■«'. J 

>:■'■■;■"■■■-'..■■• '■ 

[Mountains of Galilee and Samaria. ll ] 

dews. b It is therefore called the Little Hermon, to distinguish it from that snow-capped range 
of Anti- Lebanon, to which also the name of Hermon has been applied. 

In the same quarter, to the south and south-east of Tabor, another range of hills, separated 
in one part from the Little Hermon by a valley six miles broad, advances to the borders of the 
Jordan near Bysan, the ancient Bethshan or Scythopolis ; and, for some miles northward from 
thence, continues to bound on the west the valley of that river. This group of hills rises to the 
height of 800 feet above the level of the road, and is, perhaps, 1000 feet above the level of the 
Jordan. This lengthened ridge rises up in peaks, and bears a little withered grass and a few 
scanty shrubs scattered about in different places. In this sterile and arid character these hills 
are remarkably distinguished from those of the lesser Hermon, and indeed from all other 
mountains in this neighbourhood, which are in most parts covered with trees and copses, 
herbs, flowers and grass. This range is the Mount Gdboa of Scripture, by which name (Jebel 
Gilbo) the natives still call it ; and its peculiarly desolate character was ascribed by most of 
the old travellers to the poetical imprecation of David upon the mountains where " the shield 
of the mighty was vilely cast away," in the words " Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no 
dew, neither let there be rain upon you, nor fields of offerings." (2 Sam. i. 21.) But this is, 
perhaps, assigning too literal a sense to the denunciations of the royal poet, since it is admitted 
that ample dews and heavy rains have been experienced by travellers upon these very 

On the maritime shore, nearly east of Tabor, occurs the only very prominent headland which 
the generally low and even coast of Palestine offers. This headland forms the seaward 

a This view is taken on the road from Nazareth southward. The mountain to the right, in the foreground, is alleged to be 
that from which the people of Nazareth designed to cast Jesus down : the rest of the field shows part of the plain of Esdraelon, 
with the heights of Little Hermon, and, in the distance, the mountains of Samaria, among which the town of Nablous (Shechem) 
is situated. 

b Psalm xlii. 6; lxxxix. 12. 

c ' Borchardus Terras Sanctas Descriptio,' p. 308 ; Cotovicus, 34/ ; Morison, 216, 217 ; Richardson, ii. 424 ; Elliot, ii. 360, 361. 


termination of a mountain range to which, and more particularly to the promontory itself, 
helongs the name of Carmel — so renowned in the Hebrew annals, and in the history of the 
Crusades. This promontory incloses on the south the bay of Acre ; and its ridge then retires 
from the coast, south-eastward, to join the central chain, which we have described as prolonged 
from Lebanon. Regarded in the reverse direction, it is a branch of this chain, the promontory 
being then its termination. This connection may very clearly be traced ; but attention being 
restricted to the part more immediately connected with the promontory, and partaking in its 
sensible characteristics, it extends about seven leagues. Its elevation, even in the highest 
part, where it fronts the sea, is comparatively moderate ; a but it commands very extensive 
views, and its general beauty has been mentioned with intense admiration from the time of 
Solomon (Cant. vii. 5) till now. In front the view extends to the distant horizon, over the dark- 
blue waters of the Mediterranean ; behind stretches the great plain of Esdraelon, and the moun- 
tains of the Jordan and Judea ; below, on the right hand, lies the city of Acre, diminished to a 
mere speck ; while, in the far distance beyond, the eye rests on the summits of Lebanon ; 
and, turning to track the coast on the left hand, takes in the ruins of Csesarea — the city of 
Herod and the Roman governors of Palestine. 

The interior of Galilee and Samaria is often obscured by fogs ; but the heights of Carmel 
enjoy a pure and enlivening atmosphere, calculated to render mere existence a delight. The 
continual verdure which covers the mountain scarcely allows the whiteness of its calcareous 
rocks to appear. The pine, oak, olive, laurel, and many other trees, grow (but not to any 
considerable size) above a beautiful carpet of grass and wild flowers ; and this rich covering 
of grass and flowers extends to the fine prairies around, by virtue of the numerous streams 
which come to them from the mountain. The forests and woods of Carmel offer a verdure 
which passes not away at any season ; from the number of the shrubs and plants which in 
their turns succeed each other. To these woods numerous wild animals resort ; and birds, 
still more numerous, attracted by the abundance of suitable food, and by the streams which 
wind through the valleys of Carmel, enliven, by the harmony of their varied songs, one of the 
most beautiful spots which this very beautiful world affords. ( 3 ) 

At that time, when those mountains of the Holy Land, with which any Scriptural incidents 
could be connected, were crowded with persons who deemed it meritorious to withdraw from 
the turmoil of the world, the caves of this mountain were occupied by thousands of such 
persons, and its sides were covered with the chapels in which they worshipped, and the gardens 
which they cultivated. The grottos still exist ; many ruins of the ecclesiastical erections of this 
time are dispersed upon the mountain ; and some of its products seem to offer evidence of the 
cultivation to which it was then subject : but now, after many ages, it may be supposed to 
have reverted to somewhat of that more natural condition in which it probably appeared when 
the Hebrew poets and prophets celebrated the " excellency of Carmel." b 

Crossing the plain of Esdraelon, we leave Galilee, and arrive among the beautifully-wooded 
hills of Samaria, which exhibit scenery very different from that of the mountains of Galilee. 
Among numerous venerable olive woods, towns and villages are scattered in every direction, 
and some of the views rival those of Switzerland. 

The singularity and historical importance of the twin mountains of Ebal and Gerizim, in 
Samaria, entitle them to notice. They are, perhaps, as Josephus describes, the highest moun- 
tains in Samaria, but they do not appear to be elevated above 700 or 800 feet from the valley, 
although their elevation above the sea-level is much greater, the ground being here considerably 
elevated. The two mountains are separated only by a narrow valley, and they exhibit a re- 
markable analogy of size, figure, and height. It was perhaps for this reason, as well as from 
their convenient proximity, with a valley intervening, that, on taking possession of the Promised 
Land, it was ordered that assembled Israel should hear and respond to the curses of the law, 
declared from Mount Ebal, and to its blessings from Mount Gerizim. The blessings and the 
curses may seem to have remained upon these mountains ; for, while Gerizim is fertile and of 
pleasant aspect, Ebal is utterly barren. This superiority of Gerizim may be owing, not only to 

a The only estimate which we have seen makes it 1500 feet, which, from a comparison of circumstances, seems a considerable 

b Morison.liv. ii., ch.33; Nau.liv. v., ch. 21 ; Zuallart,liv.i4.,ch.2; Make Brun, in ' Syrie;' Skinner, ch. v. ; Stephens, ii. 343. 

Chap. II.] MOUNTAINS. xxxix 

its having a northern aspect on the side towards the valley, so that it is less than Ehal scorched 
by the hot suns of summer, but to its slope of ascent being less abrupt, so that the soil is more 
liable to accumulate on its surface, and less subject to be washed down by the autumnal rains. 
Gerizim was deemed by the Samaritans the holiest of mountains ; and upon it they had their 
temple, in which, rather than in that at Jerusalem, they held that men ought to worship. The 
temple exists no longer ; but a remnant of the people and of their worship still lingers in the 
valley below, where is still the city called Shechem in the Old Testament, and Sychar in the 
New, and whose classical name of Neapolis is now exhibited in the modern one of Nablous. 

The valley which divides the mountains, and in which the thousands of Israel were congre- 
gated, is more than a league in length, but only from 200 to 300 paces broad. This valley, 
shaded with groves of figs, olives, almonds, and apricots, bounded by high mountains, and with 
a clear and beautiful stream winding and murmuring through its centre, is one of the most 
beautiful in Palestine.* 

Judea, the southern part of Palestine, is a country full of hills and valleys, conformably to 
the Scriptural intimations. The hills are generally separated from one another by valleys and 
torrents, and are for the most part of moderate height, uneven, and seldom of any regular 
figure. The rock of which they are composed is easily converted into soil, which, being 
arrested by terraces, when washed down by the rains, render the hills cultivable in a series of 
long, narrow gardens, formed by these terraces, from the base upwards. Thus the hills were 
cultivated in former times most abundantly, and were enriched and beautified with the 
olive, the fig-tree, and the vine ; and thus the limited cultivation which now subsists is still 
carried on. But when the inhabitants were rooted out, and cultivation abandoned, the terraces 
fell to decay, and the soil which had collected on them was washed down into the valleys, 
leaving only the arid rock, naked and desolate. This is the general character ; but in some 
parts the hills are beautifully wooded, and in others the application of the ancient mode of 
cultivation — under which the valleys are covered with corn, while the terraced hills are clothed 
with fig-trees, olive-trees, or vines — suggests to the traveller how rich this country once was, 
and still might be, and how beautiful was the aspect which it offered. b 

All these characteristics of desolation apply with peculiar force to that portion of Judea c 
which formed the inheritance of Benjamin. Its most favourably -situated mountains are wholly 
uncultivated ; and, perhaps, in no other country is such a mass of rock exhibited without an 
atom of soil. In the eastward, towards the termination of the Jordan and the head of the Dead 
Sea, this district takes a naturally stern and grand character, such as no other part of Palestine 
offers ; and higher mountains occur than in any other part of the southern country. 

Here the road from Jerusalem to the plain of Jericho, after a few miles, leads to and traverses 
the sternest and most desolate mountain wilderness in all Palestine. The ridge of mountains 
in this singular district which immediately faces the plain, forming part of the mountains which 
inclose the valley of the Jordan, is the highest in Judea. They bear the name of Quarantania, 
from an ancient opinion that the wilderness which they form was that in which Christ 
remained for forty days fasting, after he had been baptized in the river Jordan ; and that the 
highest summit of the ridge is that " exceeding high mountain " from which the devil showed 
him " all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them." (Matt. iv. 8.) Speaking of 
this wild region, Morison says, " I am persuaded that there are very few deserts in the 
world so frightful as this ; and I am compelled to acknowledge that, melancholy as are the 
vast solitudes of Arabia Petraea, which I traversed in my journey from Egypt to Sinai, they are 
altogether pleasant in comparison to this." Maundrell bears similar testimony, calling it "A 
most miserable, dry, and barren place, consisting of high rocky mountains, so torn and 
disordered, as if the earth had suffered some great convulsion, in which its very bowels had 
been turned outward." 

a Elliot, ii. 380; Buckingham, ch. 29; Morison, liv. ii., ch. 10. Stephens (the recent American traveller) says that, till 
he came here, from the south, he had thought that he would not give the estate of a wealthy gentleman in Genessee for the 
whole kingdom of David. 

*> Mariti, ii. 362; Elliot, ii. 407, 408. 

c By Judea we are to be understood as meaning, not merely the territory of the single tribe of Judah, but the kingdom of Judea 
as distinguished from that of Israel. 


Of the Mountain of Temptation a the ascent is so difficult and perilous, that many travellers 
of no ordinary enterprise have desisted from the attempt to reach its summit. Of this number 
was Hasselquist, who describes the mountain as " high and pointed ; and on our left as we 
ascended, towards which the rock was perpendicularly steep. It consists of a loose, white 
limestone, mixed with another that is grayish and harder. The way up to its highest point is 
dangerous beyond imagination. It is narrow, steep, full of rocks and stones, which obliged us 
frequently to creep over them before we could accomplish our design. The difficulty is 
increased by the valley on one side ; which, besides its terrible aspect, is most dangerous, as, 
in case any one should slip, his death would be certain. I went as far up on this terrible 
mountain as prudence would permit, but ventured not to proceed to the summit." We sup- 
pose he went up two-thirds of the mountain, the ascent of which is attended with more fatigue 
than danger ; but the remaining third is so formidable, that few even of the old pilgrims, 
though actuated by the fervour of religious zeal, ventured to the summit ; and those who 
did, described it as the most perilous undertaking of their lives. The view from the top, 
however, well repays the fatigue and danger of the enterprise : it embraces the whole extent of 
the Dead Sea, and beyond it the plains of Moab, and Mount Pisgah, whence Moses viewed 
the Promised Land; while just under the eye are the plains of Jericho and the river Jordan. 
This mountain, like the others of the same ridge, is full of caves, of various form and size, 
which have alternately offered secure retreats to fugitives, recluses, and robbers. b Such caves 
are, indeed, most numerous among the steep and rugged mountains at the northern extremity 
of the Dead Sea on this side the Jordan ; which, except in being of much less elevation, offer 
the same essential characteristics as the mountains of Quarantania. 

Of Judea Proper, the most mountainous part is the country around Jerusalem, and between 
it and the head of the Asphaltic Lake. More to the south, the breadth of the country is less 
occupied by mountains, which are confined chiefly to the central ridge : its dependent hills 
and its disparted branches, which are sent forth to divide and diversify the plains, — which 
extend, on the one hand, to the shores of the Mediterranean, and, on the other, to the barren 
and high rocks which thickly set the western shore of the Dead Sea, — are of such essential 
form and character as we have already described. The naked hills prevail most in the north 
and south of Judea, and occur frequently in other parts. Cultivation on the hills is most 
common for about half the distance from Jerusalem to Hebron, southward ; and, in the other 
half, the uncultivated hills are more or less wooded. The only mountain in this region, which 
is seen from far, and seems to require particular notice, is that one, nearly detached, which 
rises about five miles to the south-east of Bethlehem. It is called the " Franks' Mount," from 
its having been fortified and held by the Christians many years against the Moslems during the 
Crusades. The summit still exhibits some ruins of the strong castles which they built there. 
The situation would seem almost impregnable, for the mountain is very high and rugged, 
and so steep that Nau, the only traveller by whom we can find it to have been ascended, was 
obliged to dismount at its base, and climb on foot to its top. c 

None of the other mountains of Palestine Proper are, separately, of such physical or histo- 
rical importance as to require notice in this part of the present work. But its historical 
portion will be found to characterise, as occasion requires, most of the hills and hilly districts 
of the country. 

We must now proceed to view the more remarkable mountains in the country beyond the 
Jordan. For this our materials are still very inadequate. But this will be the less sensibly 
felt, as few of the mountains of this part of the country are of such Scriptural or historical 
renown, as to create the consciousness of need for that information which, if felt to be wanted, 
could not be very perfectly supplied. 

Jebel Essheikh, which forms the natural northern frontier of Palestine beyond Jordan, has 
already been noticed. This mount sends a branch or continuation southward, which, under 

a Such is the uame usually given it ; but the old French travellers often also call it Mont du Diable. 
t> Hasselquist, 128; Maundrell, 79; Morison, 523; Surius, 493. 
c Seetzen, 41 ; Hasselquist, 126; Roger, 182; Nau, 439. 

Chap. II.] MOUNTAINS. xli 

the name of Jebel Heish, extends about twenty-five miles, terminating in the Tel Faras, at a 
distance of about ten miles eastward from a point somewhat below the head of the Lake of 
Gennesareth. The ground traversed by this chain is much elevated above the eastward plains 
of Damascus and Djolan; so that, seen from thence, it appears to be composed of considerable 
mountains : but when the traveller, having gradually ascended from the plains, comes near to 
them, they appear to be of very moderate elevation.* 

For twenty-four miles (eight hours) to the south of the termination of the Jebel Heish, is an 
open country, equally divided by the river Jarmouk. This open country contains the famous 
pasture lands of Argob and part of Bashan. Eastward, this land slopes to the plains of the 
Haouran, and westward it is interrupted by the steep descents to the Lake of Gennesareth and 
the valley of the Jordan. And here it may be proper to observe, that the general level of the 
plain country beyond the Jordan is high above the valley of that river, which offers one of the 
lowest levels in all Syria. ( 4 ) This large space of open country may be called flat in comparison 
with the hilly region to the south ; and, viewed from a distance, appears more fiat than it 
really is; for, besides that the ground has a gradual descent towards the eastern plains, it is 
intersected by numerous deep valleys, rich in pastures. 

Beyond this district the mountains rise again, and increase in altitude and breadth as they 
traverse, or rather fill, the country of Gilead to and beyond the river Jabbok. In this part the 
mountains are in higher and broader masses than anywhere else on this side the Jordan ; and 
here, as we have hitherto done, we shall notice the more prominent points, without attempting 
to discriminate the various ridges and branches which it offers. 

The part of Gilead, north of the Jabbok, is comprehended in the modern districts of Belad 
Beni Obeid, Adjeloun, and Moerad. All these are mountainous districts throughout, and are 
more or less wooded, particularly with the oak and wild pistachio. The wood is most abun- 
dant in Adjeloun. The mountains of Moerad are the highest and most dense. The principal 
points in these districts are, the mountain of Kafkafa, a long and broad mountain facing the 
eastern plains. On the lower slopes of this calcareous mountain, wild pistachio trees abound ; 
higher up oaks become more frequent and the forest thickens ; near the top are some remains 
of the foundations of ancient buildings, and the summit commands an extensive and beautiful 
view over the neighbouring mountains and plains. The mountain of Oeraboun, which marks 
the limits between the districts of Adjeloun and Moerad, is chiefly remarkable for the thickest 
forest of oak trees which Burckhardt had seen in Syria. The mountains of Moerad contain 
no points which have attracted particular attention ; but it is observed that their higher summits 
seem to be considerably more elevated than those of the mountains of the southern side of the 
Jabbok (now Zerka). b 

To the south of this river the districts are less subdivided ; for the denomination of the 
Belka seems, from Burckhardt's use of it, to embrace the whole tract of country between 
that river and the head of the Dead Sea. It appears that a portion of this country, immedi- 
ately to the south of the Zerka, must be understood as included in the Scriptural name of 
Gilead. For this very name, in the modified form of Jelaad, is still given to a mountain six 
miles to the south of that river. This mountain runs, from east to west, about seven miles in 
length ; and upon it are the ruins of two towns, which also bear the names of Jelaad and 
Jelaoud. Closely adjoining this mountain rises that of Jebel Osha, which far overtops all the 
other mountains of the Belka. It is a fine mountain, well wooded, and its summit gives a 
very striking view over the valley of the Jordan, while Jericho is visible at a great distance 
to the south. The mountain takes its name from a tomb which is supposed to be that of the 
prophet Hosea. 

South of the Zerka the chain of mountains increases its breadth. And in this inheritance 
of Gad and (partly of) Reuben, which the Belka forms, the traveller, from the sultry plains of 
the Jordan, is refreshed by the cool winds which blow over this high region : everywhere he 
finds the grateful shade of the oak and wild pistachio, and looks around upon a scenery more 
resembling that of Europe than he is likely to find in all Syria. 

Before arriving at the parallel of the Dead Sea the mountainous country contracts its 

s Burckhardt, 286, 314. b Burckhardt, 246, 248, 265, 286, 288, 289, 290, 314, 346, &c. c Burckhardt, 339, 348, 353. 

VOL. I. g 



[Chap. II. 

breadth ; and about the head of that sea is reduced to the single principal chain, which 
afterwards enlarges to form the mountains of Seir. This chain, commencing nearly opposite 
the northern extremity of the Asphaltic Lake, and, at its other extremity, joining Mount 
Seir, appears to form the mountains which in Scripture bear the name of Abarim. There 
it is recorded that from Mount Nebo, one of the highest summits of this range, and which, 
from the context, must have been in its northern part, Moses was permitted to view the 
Promised Land ; and that there he died. Writers disagree as to the situation of this moun- 
tain. Nau refers to a mountain near Szalt, evidently meaning Mount Osha, mentioned 
above; and we should be inclined to agree with him, if it did not seem that this moun- 
tain is more to the north than the history will allow. Six miles westward from Heshbon 
is the situation assigned to Mount Nebo by Eusebius, who is followed by most later writers. 
It is an excellent position for the history ; but being unable to learn that the situation is 
occupied by any eminent mountain, we may, perhaps, with the few travellers who have visited 
this part of the country, look for it in Mount Attarous, which rises about eight miles to the 
north of the river Modjeb (the ancient Arnon). This mountain offers the highest summit of 
the neighbourhood. No traveller seems to have ascended it; and it is only slightly mentioned, 
in passing, as a tall and barren mountain, on whose summit might be perceived a heap of 
stones overshadowed by a wild pistachio tree. a 

We have no information of any noted mountain in the country south of the Arnon. Beyond 
that river lie wide plains covered with absinthium and other plants and shrubs. But, on 
approaching Kerek, b the country becomes more mountainous ; and at this point, beyond the 
plains of Moab, where the mountains rise again, we should be inclined to fix the commence- 
ment of Mount Seir, the southward continuation of which we have already indicated. This 
forms here, at its commencement, a very mountainous country between Kerek and the end of 
the Dead Sea ; nor is the breadth of mountain country thus indicated much diminished in the 
southward progress of the chain. 

[Mountains of Seir.] 

Our attention must next be directed to the mountains which now line, on the east and on the 
west, the broad valley of Araba, which extends between the Asphaltic Lake and the Red Sea, 
and through which the river Jordan is believed to have once continued its southward course. 
The prolongations of Lebanon exhibit a very different character on the opposite sides of this 

» Upland, * Palestine,' lib. i. cap. 51 ; Nau, 365 ; Burckhardt, 3/0; Irliy and Mangles, 464; Macmicliael's * Journal,* 243. 
*> About twenty-five miles east from the southern extremity of the Dead Sea. c Seetzen, 36-40 ; Burckhardt, 3/5, et scq. 

Chap. II.] MOUNTAINS. xliii 

valley. The western chain of hills is not half as high, as those to the east. Burckhardt, after 
descending the eastern mountains and crossing the valley below, proceeded to ascend the 
western hills : — " After an hour and a half of gentle ascent, we arrived at the summit of the 
hills, and then descended by a short and very gradual declivity into the western plains, the 
level of which, although higher than that of the Araba, is, perhaps, 1000 feet lower than the 
eastern desert." In that case the height of the eastern mountains must be very considerable, 
seeing that their elevation above the valley of Araba must be above 1000 feet, by as much more 
as that valley is below the level of the western desert, added to as much as the mountains 
themselves are above the level of the eastern plain. The same traveller had an extensive 
view over the western chain from the point where he crossed it ; and he says that it is inter- 
sected by numerous wadys in which the talh tree a grows. The rock is described by him as 
entirely silicious, and of the same sort as that of the desert which extends from thence to Suez. 
But Burckhardt saw too little of this chain to use the word "entirely" with safety ; and Laborde, 
who saw much more of it, says its more southern part, at least, is composed of chalk and lime- 
stone ; and adds, that its hills are there pretty regular in form, and rise in a tabled shape, not 
(as more to the north) above the level of the western desert, which there commands a great 
part of the valley. Lord Lindsay, who crossed this chain in its northern portion, says, " We 
entered the low barren hills that skirt Wady Araba on the west, and, for several hours during 
this and the following day, traversed a country of the most utter desolation, hills succeeding 
hills, without the slightest picturesque beauty, covered with loose flints, sand, and gravel." b 

The far more important and lofty mountains which bound the valley of Araba on the east, 
form, as we have already had occasion to notice, the proper mountains of Seir of the Scriptures, 
although we know not that this denomination might not, in its larger acceptation, comprehend 
also the western hills. They rise very high above the valley, and, as viewed from thence, in- 
crease in elevation in the progress to the south. But this increase is only apparent, and owing 
to the southward slope of the valley, as evinced by the equal level of the eastern plain, beyond 
the mountains. As viewed from that plain, the mountains have no sensible increase of altitude 
southward ; and from thence, indeed, they only exhibit the appearance of low hills. This is 
owing to the. elevation of the eastern plain, far above the level of the valley. This circumstance 
is observed, indeed, throughout the country from the Lake of Tiberias southward. From the 
borders of that lake, or of the Jordan, or of the Dead Sea, the traveller has to make steep and 
difficult ascents up a succession of tall cliffs and high mountains, on surmounting the highest 
of which he finds that he has to make but a comparatively slight descent into the eastern 

These mountains of Seir must not be understood as a single range of high hills ; but as an 
extensive mountainous region, from ten to twelve leagues in width, forming a rocky belt, 
separating the Stony Arabia from the eastern deserts of sand. On first viewing these moun- 
tains from the southern part of the valley of Araba, high rocks of granite appear as if fractured 
into a thousand different forms. These rocks of granite formation extend almost as far north- 
ward as the Wady Gharandel, d which is almost half way between the Gulf of Akaba and Petra ; 
they then begin to be covered with chalk and limestone, which extend five leagues to the north 
and north-east, and then disappear amidst rocks of sandstone veined with oxide of iron, and 
presenting more fantastic shapes than any other parts of the mountain. How far to the north 
of Petra these last characteristics extend, we find no authority that states ; but we learn from 
Burckhardt that sandstone continues to be very common as far to the north as the Wady el 
Ahsa (near the southern extremity of the Dead Sea), after which it occurs but rarely. 

That the exterior aspects of these mountains, viewed from the valley, are unusually stern and 
dark, would appear from the general terms which travellers employ. Lord Lindsay speaks of 
them as " the black mountains from which the Edomites looked down." And Mr. Stephens, 
standing on the shore of the northern extremity of the ^Elanitic Gulf, saw before him the broad 

a The tree that produces the gum-arabic. b ' Letters on Egypt, Edom, and the Holy Land,' vol. ii. p. 46. 

c Laborde, whose authority we are following just here, appears to include porphyry, with granite, in this denomination. 
J The reader must be mindful to distinguish this Wady Gharandel from another of the same name (about mid- way between 
Suez and Mount Sinai), which we shall hereafter have occasion to mention. 

g 2 



[Chap. II. 

sandy valley of Akaba, " with high, dark, and barren mountains, bounding it like a wall." 
He says, " The land of Idumea lay before me in barrenness and desolation ; no trees grew in 
the valley, and no verdure on the mountain tops. All was bare, dreary, and desolate." a The 
opposite, or eastern, face of these mountains, however, presents a very different appearance, 
not only from their apparent lowness, owing, as we have already described, to the elevation of 
the eastern plateau in which they terminate, but from its regular form and unbroken course, 
and from its being the only part covered uniformly with vegetable mould. This was too im- 
portant a feature in so stony or sandy a region to have been overlooked, and accordingly we 
here find numerous marks of ancient cultivation. Stones which have been arranged to mark 
the limits of fields, as well as the ruins of separate habitations and villages, scattered every- 
where over this elevated country, still attest the industry of the ancient inhabitants in cultivating 
an apparently unfriendly soil. 

[Mount Hor.] 

The tallest summit among the mountains of Seir is Mount Hor, on which Aaron died, and 
whose towering bulk is a land-mark to the wanderer afar off in the surrounding deserts. It 
offers a commanding view over the plains and mountains below. " If I had never stood on 
the top of Mount Sinai," says the last-cited traveller, " I should say that nothing could exceed 
the desolation of the view from the summit of Mount Hor ; its most striking objects being the 
dreary and rugged mountains of Seir, bare and naked of trees and verdure, and heaving their 
lofty summits to the skies, as if in a vain and fruitless effort to excel the mighty pile, on the 
top of which the high-priest of Israel was buried." 

Yet even here all is not barren. The interior of these desolate mountains — their valleys and 
their hollows — present many a scene of verdure and beauty. While the same writer, in sum- 
ming up his impressions, remembers that the mountains were barren, solitary, and desolate, 
and that the higher he ascended their aspect became more wild and rugged, and rose to 
sublimity and grandeur, — he does not forget that, among these arid wastes of crumbling rock, 
there were beautiful streams gushing forth from the sides of the mountains ; and sometimes 
small valleys, where the green grass and shrubs and bushes were putting forth in early spring; 

a ' Incidents of Travel,' vol. ii. p. 41. 

Chap. II.] MOUNTAINS. xlv 

and that he saw, among the stony mountains of Arabia Petrsea, more verdure than he had 
observed since he left the banks of the Nile. 

The spot which has just been referred to, as that by which travellers are now attracted to 
the mountains of Seir, is the deep hollow in their bosom, whose tall cliffs offer those wonderful 
sculptures and excavations of temples, habitations, and tombs, which compose the ancient 
metropolis of Edom, now but lately revealed, in the freshness of its beauty, to the admiration 
of nations which have sprung into existence since it became a desolation. Of this spot and 
this city we have elsewhere a spoken, and shall probably, in this work, have some further 
occasion to speak. This, and other hollows and valleys of these mountains, exhibit some very 
striking geological characteristics, which, were they properly discriminated, might throw much 
light on their physical construction. All travellers mention, with wonder and admiration, the 
beautiful and varied appearance of the rock composing the cliffs which enclose the valley of 
Petra. " The whole stony rampart that encircled the city," says Mr. Stephens, " was of a 
peculiarity and beauty which I never saw elsewhere, being a dark ground with veins of white, 
blue, red, purple, and sometimes scarlet and light orange, running through it in rainbow 
streaks ; and within the chambers, where there had been no exposure to the action of the 
elements, the freshness and beauty of the colours, in which these waving lines were drawn, 
gave an effect hardly inferior to that of the paintings in the tombs of the kings at Thebes." 
Other travellers speak to the same effect ; and Lord Liudsay adds that some of the oldest 
excavations are almost filled with earth, decomposed from the fragments that are constantly 
flaking off from the roof. " I was surprised," he says, " to find the stone so crumbling : it 
must have been as easy to cut as chalk : I could break it easily with my fingers." Stephens 
was informed by the Arabs that -no stone veined like the rocks at Petra was to be found else- 
where ; which at least shows that they knew of none like it. 

A few miles to the north of this place is another valley, or rather defile, called Wady Sig. 
It has only been described by Lord Lindsay, whose description we quote for the sake of the 
impression of relief which it gives to the general picture, and of the vegetable products which 
it specifies : — " It is one of the most romantic denies I ever saw : lofty crags, almost perpen- 
dicular, tower on each side, deep fissures yawning in their breasts, tufted with evergreens, and 
single isolated rocks guarding the pass like sentinels : the road winds through a thick wood of 
sedder, arrah, oleander, and acacia trees, — every shade of green." 

Still more to the north occurs the broadest valley in the whole chain of mountains. It is 
that of El Ghoeyr, which, being the only one that offers a passage practicable to any large 
body of people is, with good reason, conceived by Colonel Leake b to be the "highway," 
through which the host of Israel vainly sought the permission of the Edomites to pass from 
the western desert into the eastern plains. It is described by Burckhardt as a large, rocky, 
and uneven basin, considerably lower than the eastern plain, upwards of twelve miles across at 
its eastern extremity, but narrowing towards the west. It is intersected by numerous wadys d 
of winter torrents, and by three or four valleys watered by rivulets which unite below and flow 
into the great western valley. The Ghoeyr is famous for the excellent pasturage produced by 
its numerous springs ; and it has, in consequence, become a favourite place of encampment 
for all the Bedouins of these mountains. The borders of the rivulets are overgrown with 
defle e and the shrub rethem. f The rock is principally calcareous; and there are detached 
pieces of basalt, and large tracts of breccia, formed of sand, flint, and pieces of calcareous stone. 
" Calcareous with basalt" is the character which Burckhardt continues to assign to the still 
more northern part of these mountains. By this he probably means, as he explains near this, 
that the body of the mountain is calcareous, with its superficies covered with large basaltic 

The chain of hills is of much less apparent height northward, approaching the Dead Sea, 
than southward, approaching the Gulf of Akaba ; and among the circumstances which in this 

a ' Pictorial Bible,' notes on 2 Kings xiv. 7; 2 Chron. xxv. 12; Jer. xlix. 15. 
b Preface to Burckhardt, p. xv. = Numbers xx. xxi. 

The word wady, spelt by French travellers, ouadi, denotes the channel of a stream or river, or any valley or ravine through 
which a stream flows, whether constantly or only in the winter season. 
e Solarium furiosum. f Genista Raetam, Forsk. 



[Chap. II. 

part render their aspect less 6tern and desolate, may be mentioned that the mountains are in 
parts overgrown with short balout trees. 

We have uow, in the last place, to extend our attention southward to the desert region in 
which the host of Israel wandered many years, and to the mountains venerable beyond all 
others, for the associations which the most ancient history in the world connects with them. 
In the conformities which may still be traced in this wild region, with the indications which 
that history offers, there is much to engage our attention, even were we to neglect the sacred 
character of the transactions from which those indications arise But besides this, the region 
of Sinai is in itself, apart from the sacred interest connected with its deserts and its mountains, 
so striking and peculiar as to deserve far more attention than we shall be able to allow it, 
although we are not without fear that some of our readers, less impressed than ourselves with 
a sense of the historical and physical interest of this region, may deem that here and in some 
future pages, we afford it an undue share of our consideration. 

The basin of the Arabian Gulf, which in its direction presents some analogy with the bed of 
the Nile, is, like it, divided into two arms at its northern extremity. The triangular space com- 
prehended between these two arms is known under the name of the peninsula of Sinai, and 
must be regarded as pertaining to Arabia Petrsea. The westernmost of the arms of the Red 
Sea, which enclose this triangle between them, is called the Gulf of Suez, from the town of 
that name,, situated near its termination ; and the easternmost arm bears the name of the Gulf 
of Akaba, from the fortress which stands near its head. The route of the Israelites, when they 
visited the mountains of Sinai from Egypt, lay along the borders of the former gulf; and this 
is the route which travellers now take. In proceeding southward from Suez, they have, for 
the most part, a range of hills of small importance on their left hand ; and these are nearest 
the road in the north, and gradually recede from it in the progress southward, and ultimately 
strike off across the peninsula, dividing it, as it were, into two parts. These intersecting hills 

[Mountains of El Tyh, with the Rock of the Pilgrims.] 

bear the name of El Tyh, or of the Wandering, which name also belongs to the northern half 
of the peninsula beyond them ; and are so called by the Arabs in memory of the wanderings 
of the Israelites. All these hills are of secondary formation, and are markedly disconnected, 

Chap. II.] 



not only by this formation, but by broad valleys, from the mountains of the south. The inter- 
secting El Tyh hills, which may be regarded as forming the northern boundary of the Sinai 
mountains, are the most regular ranges in the peninsula, being almost throughout of equal 
height, without any prominent peaks, and extending in an uninterrupted line eastward. The 
opposite coast of this peninsula, on the Gulf of Akaba, which consists of a series of bays 
separated by projecting head-lands, exhibits, in its tall cliffs and capes, traces of primitive 
formations which connect it physically with the southern mountains: and we have lately 
noticed, on the authoritv of Laborde, that these formations extend into the mountains of Seir 
as far as the Wady Gharandel. 

The proper mountains of Sinai, so renowned in Biblical history, are all in the southern 
part of the peninsula, or that part which is cut off by the El Tyh hills. This southern part, 
in the midst of which arises the mountains of Horeb and Sinai, presents a space of nearly 
1200 square leagues, covered with primitive mountains, principally porphyritic. All the 
species of rock which appertain to this formation are here exhibited in an abundance and 
with a diversity which it would be very difficult to find elsewhere. The French scientific 
commissioners, MM. Roziere and Coutelle, who made a long sojourn in the peninsula and 
explored much of this southern region, could think of no mountains which appeared to offer so 
many analogies as those of the Vosges. The nature of the rocks, their dispositions, accidents, 
passages, transitions, and the forms and elevations of the mountains, all suggested very 
striking resemblances. 

[General View of Sinai.] 

The summits of Mounts Sinai, Horeb, Serbal, and Om Shomar, which are the most 
remarkable, rise to the height of about 8000 feet above the level of the neighbouring valleys, 
which are themselves elevated from 500 to 600 feet above the level of the surrounding sea. 
This region is separated from the foot of the secondary chain of El Tyh by a broad sandy 
plain, which affords good pasturage in spring, but, being destitute of water, is not much fre- 
quented even by Bedouins. This plain, on the land side, seems to correspond to others along 
the sea border, on both sides, after passing which the ascent begins, through various gently 
sloping valleys to the high central region of Sinai. We cannot clearly make out what extent 
Burckhardt gives to an observation which he makes soon after the ascent, by the usual road, 
begins, — " The ranges of mountains in this country differ in their formation from all the 
other Arabian chains which I have seen, the valleys reaching to the very summits, where 


they form a plain, and thence descend to the other side." We suppose this applies not to 
the valleys in the high central region itself, but to those in the ascent to it. The traveller 
has the lofty central summits in view several days before he comes to them ; and when he 
reaches their borders, he finds that abrupt cliffs of granite, from 500 to 600 feet in height, 
their surface blackened by the sun, surround the avenues leading to the elevated platform to 
which the name of Sinai is more especially applied. Such cliffs enclose the holy mountains 
on three sides, leaving only the east and north-east sides, towards the Gulf of Akaba, more 
open to the view. It takes about four hours and a half, after reaching these cliffs, to arrive 
at the foot of Mount Sinai, through the defile which is followed by these travellers who take 
the nearest route from Suez. Arriving here, the traveller finds an extensive Greek convent, 
like a fortress, situated in so narrow a valley, that while one part of the building stands upon 
the lower slope of Mount Horeb, a space of twenty paces only is left between its walls and 
the eastern mountains. 

The names of Mounts Horeb, Sinai, Moses, St. Catherine, are applied by travellers in such 
sort, that the reader is often at a loss to distinguish their application ; and it is only by a 
careful comparison of their accounts that he learns that the name of Horeb is now applied to 
the mountain at whose base the convent stands, and which forms a sort of breast from or 
upon which rise the twin summits of Mounts St. Catherine and Sinai, which last also bears 
the name of Moses (Jebel Mousa) : or, in other words, that Mount Horeb is the base, and 
Mounts Sinai and St. Catherine the tallest summits of the same mountain. We shall not in 
this place examine the claims of these or any other appropriations of sacred names : we have 
done this in another work, a where the accuracy of these appropriations are questioned — and 
possibly a future page may give occasion for some further remarks on the subject. But we 
are now describing things as they exist, distinguishing them by the names which they 
currently bear, without pausing to inquire how properly those names have been applied. 
The name of Sinai, the restricted use of which is thus stated, is, however, applied in a 
general way, as we have seen, to all these mountains, and, indeed, to the whole of the 

The summits of Mounts Sinai and St. Catherine are not visible from the valley in which 
the convent stands ; and, unless previously prepared, the traveller is astonished on arriving at 
the plain at the top of Horeb, to see the formidable ascents which rise before him. A steep 
ascent up Mount Horeb commences immediately behind the walls of the convent, to facilitate 
which, steps (sa i- d to be 14,000 in number) were anciently cut, even to the summit; but 
these are now either destroyed or so much damaged by the winter torrents, as to be of very 
little use. The ascent takes three quarters of an hour, exclusively of the opportunity which 
the traveller may have taken, after twenty-five minutes' ascent, of breathing a short time 
under a large impending rock, hard by which is a well of water, cold as ice. At the top of this 
ascent is a large open space, or small plain, surrounded on all sides by mountains; high 
above all of which rises the lofty summit of Sinai, by which, from this place, the still loftier 
summit of St. Catherine is concealed, as both summits had been concealed by Horeb from 
the valley below. To this part of the mountain the venerable Scriptural name of Horeb is 
now more especially given ; and here pilgrims generally pause before they assay the difficult 
enterprise before them. In the centre of the plain stands, enclosed by a stone fence, the only 
tree in the mountain — a cypress, planted by the monks upwards of 100 years since ; and 
near this is a tank which receives the winter rains, and which is alleged to have been dug by 
the prophet Elias during his sojourn in the mountain. This name is also borne by an old 
convent, now deserted, containing a grotto which is said to have been his residence. 

From this plain, a still steeper ascent of half an hour, the steps of which are also in ruins, 
leads to the summit of Mount Sinai. The plain at the top of the mountain does not exceed 
sixty paces in circumference, and on this the ruins of an ancient church are still to be seen, 
and near this, on a somewhat lower point, is a mosque also in ruins, offering, together, rather 

a ' Pictorial Bible ;' note on Exod. xix. 2. 

Chap. II.] 



[Summit of Mount Sinai.] 

a striking testimony of the concurrent respect with which both Christians and Moslems 
regard the holy mountain. The Jews make no pilgrimages here, nor do any memorials made 
with hands attest their interest in these mountains. And they need none : the rocks them- 
selves and the wildernesses, the valleys, the palm-trees, the bitter waters, and the bounding 
gulf — all bear witness, lasting as the world, of the close and marvellous connection of their 
history with the scenes which this wild region offers. 

Some recent travellers have gratified us with an account of what they saw from the summit 
of this mountain, a view which Burckhardt was prevented by a thick fog from enjoying. If 
he had not left us a full and clear account of what he afterwards perceived from the adjoining 
and higher summit of St. Catherine, this might be much regretted, as few travellers equal him 
in the avoidance of vague general expressions in description, and in the precision and fulness 
of his information. In the present instance, Sir Frederick Henniker tells us that if he had to 
represent the end of the world, he would model it -from Mount Sinai : and afterwards he calls 
it " a sea of desolation j" adding, " it would seem as if Arabia Petrsea had once been an ocean of 
lava, and that while its waves were literally running mountains high, it was commanded suddenly 
to stand still." Laborde, on arriving at the summit, was surprised at the briskness of the air. 
The eye sought in vain, he says, to catch some prominent object among the chaos of rocks 
which were tumbled around the base, and vanished in the distance in the form of raging waves. 
Nevertheless, he distinguished the Red Sea, the mountains of Africa, and some summits of 
mountains which were easily recognizable by their shapes ; as Om Shomar, by its rounded 
masses, Serbal, by its shooting points, and El Tyh, by its immense prolongation. Mr. Stephens, 
the recent American traveller, also gives an animated glance at the "bleak solitudes and 
terrible majesty of Sinai," and is particularly impressed by the sacred associations of "the holy 
mountain." That this was really the " holy mountain " we very much doubt : but whatever 
truth or beauty exists in the feelings which are excited in this or other travellers by sacred asso- 
ciations, are, here at least, scarcely affected by questions respecting the identity of particular 
mountains ; for while these do not considerably differ in altitude or formation, and it is rather 
vol. i. h 


by the whole scene than by the particular mountain that these feelings are excited, there is 
no question that this region is the scene of the wondrous transactions recorded in the sacred 
books ; — that these are the mountains which quaked when the Lord came down in fire upon 
them ; and that these are the valleys which then heard his voice. 

None of these travellers whom we have cited thought it worth their while to ascend to the 
neighbouring and somewhat taller summit of St. Catherine — an inappropriate name, which it 
takes from a stupid legend about a female " saint " so called. The ascent is considerably more 
difficult than that of Mount Sinai : and those who contemplate the ascent usually go down to 
the valley which separates them, and remain till the next morning in the small convent of El 
Erbayn, or the Forty [Martyrs]. Some, however, return to the great convent at the foot of 
Mount Horeb, making separate expeditions of the two ascents. Of this number was the 
candid old traveller Morison, who, with others, tells us that this mountain is not only higher 
than its neighbour, but is distinguished from it by having no ascending pathway, or any trace 
of the course by which it is usually mounted ; so that, without such experience as the guiding 
monks possess, the pilgrim might stray a hundred times from the right track. One of his 
party lost heart at a third of the ascent, and returned to the convent ; and Morison ingenuously 
confesses that, as he proceeded, he weighed three or four times in his mind the propriety of 
following this example, rather than of persisting in an undertaking of apparently so much peril 
and difficulty. " We found, in fact," he says, " certain points which it seemed little easier to 
surmount than to scale the skies ; nevertheless, animated, in the end, by the example of our 
Greek monks, who scrambled up like cats, and finding here a small hollow in which I could rest 
the point of my foot, and there a ledge which I could grasp with my hand, I at last reached 
the summit." From the more explicit information of Burckhardt it appears that the worst 
part is on approaching the highest part of the mountain, which consists of a single immense 
block of granite, the surface of which is so smooth as to render the ascent very difficult. This 
mountain, at least, is not steril. The ascent takes two hours. The side of this mountain is 
noted for its excellent pasturage ; herbs sprout up everywhere between the rocks, and, as many 
of them are odoriferous, the scent, early in the morning, when the dew falls, is delicious. This 
luxuriant vegetation reaches up to the granite block which caps the mountain ; which thus, 
upon the whole, presents a verdure which, had it been turf, instead of shrubs and herbs, would 
have completed the resemblance which it bears to some of the Alpine summits. The summit 
of this mountain, like that of Mount Mousa, terminates sharply, and upon it there is nothing 
remarkable save a small ancient oratory, built of loose uncemented stones, and hardly high 
enough within to allow a person to stand upright. 

The summit of Mount St. Catherine commands a most extensive view of the whole region 
in which it stands. The details comprehended in this magnificent view have been laid down 
by Burckhardt with admirable precision ; and the substance of his statement, with contribu- 
tions from other sources, is necessary to complete the picture of this most interesting region, 
with which we are endeavouring to furnish our readers. 

From this elevated peak the directions of the different surrounding chains of mountains, and 
of the valleys which divide and intersect them, can be distinctly traced. It is from hence seen 
that the upper nucleus of the Sinai, which is composed almost entirely of granite and porphyry, 
forms a rocky wilderness of an irregular, circular shape, intersected by many narrow valleys, 
and from thirty to forty miles in diameter. It contains the highest mountains of the peninsula ; 
and their shaggy and pointed peaks, and steep and shattered sides, render it clearly dis- 
tinguishable from all the rest of the country in view. It is upon this highest region of the 
peninsula that the fertile valleys which produce fruit-trees are found ; and these are principally 
at the distance of three or four hours' journey from the convent, to the west and south-west. 
Water, from the numerous mountain springs, abounds in all this region ; and hence the com- 
parative fertility of the valleys ; for vegetable mould either does not exist, or is so scanty, that 
the gardens of the convent are supplied with earth brought all the way from Egypt on the 
backs of camels : but in this climate, wherever water is abundant, the very rocks will produce 
vegetation. It is hence the refuge of all the Bedouins of the peninsula (about 4000 in number) 

Chap. II.] MOUNTAINS. li 

when the low country is parched with consuming droughts ; and hence this region contrasts 
advantageously with the northern part of the peninsula, which is an absolute desert ; and the 
inhabitants of the central and southern parts, from the comparisons they are thus led to make, 
regard their country as the happiest under heaven. The air also is here delightfully pure and 
cool. The fell simoom never reaches to this high region ; and at the convent, at the foot of 
Horeb, the thermometer may be at 75°, while in the low country, and particularly near the 
sea-shore, it will be at from 102° to 105°, or even 110°. In winter the whole of the upper 
Sinai is deeply covered with snow, which choices up many of the passes, and often renders 
the mountains of Moses and St. Catherine inaccessible. Upon the whole, the climate is so 
different from that of Egypt that fruits are nearly two months later in ripening there than at 

After this general statement, with respect to this upper region, we can the better attend to 
the particulars of the view which engages our attention from the summit of Mount St. 
Catherine, which stands nearly in the centre of it. The characteristics to the north of this 
central region have been already insufficiently indicated for our present purposes. We, there- 
fore, turn at once to the east, and observe that the slope of the upper mountains is much less 
abrupt on this than on the opposite side. The mountains in this direction, beyond the high 
district of Sinai, run in a lower range towards one of the principal cross valleys, called Wady 
Sahl, beyond which, to the east and north-east, the chains intersect each other in many inferior 
masses of irregular height, till they reach the Gulf of Akaba, which was clearly discernible to 
Burckhardt from Mount St. Catherine, when the sun was just rising over the mountains of the 
Arabian side of the gulf. All the mountains bordering on the gulf are of secondary height, 
except in the short extent (in about the centre of the line) between Noweyba and Dahab, 
where they rise to considerable elevation. The country to the south-east, down nearly to the 
terminating headland of the peninsula, is also occupied by mountains of minor size, and the 
valleys are so narrow that few of them can be distinguished from our point of view ; and the 
whole country in that direction appears an uninterrupted wilderness of barren mountains. 

Southward, the view is bounded by the high mountain of Om Shomar, which forms a 
nucleus of itself, apparently unconnected with the upper Sinai, though bordering close upon it. 
To the right of this mountain the sea may be distinguished, in the neighbourhood of Tor, near 
which begins a chain of low, calcareous mountains, called Jebel Hemam [or Death], which is 
separated from the upper Sinai by a broad, gravelly plain, called El Kaa, across which the 
road from Tor to Suez passes. This plain terminates to the W.N.W. of Mount St. Catherine, 
and nearly in the direction of Mount Serbal. Toward this plain of El Kaa the central Sinai 
mountains are very abrupt, and have no secondary intermediate chain between them and the 
plain at their feet. The mountain of Serbal is separated from the upper plain by some valleys, 
especially Wady Hebran, and it forms with several neighbouring mountains a separate cluster 
terminating in peaks, the highest of which appears to be as high as Mount St. Catherine. It 
borders on the valley of Feiran [Faran, Paran], and being situated to the north-west of the 
great central cluster of mountains, it is necessarily the first high mountain at which travellers 
coming direct from the head of the gulf arrive. 

This survey indicates a few objects which we must examine a little more particularly. 

First, there is the southern mountain of Om Shomar, which we do not know that any tra- 
veller but Burckhardt has hitherto visited ; and he did not mount the highest summit, which 
seemed to him impossible to reach, the sides being almost perpendicular, and the rock so 
smooth as to afford no hold for the feet. He halted 200 feet below the top, and there a 
beautiful view opened upon the Gulf of Suez, and the neighbourhood of Tor, which place was 
distinctly visible, while the wide plain of El Kaa lay extended at his feet. This mountain 
consists of granite, the lower part of which is red, while the top is almost white, so as to 
appear from a distance like chalk ; this arises from the large proportion of white feldspath in 
it, and the smallness of the particles of hornblende and mica. In the middle of the mountain, 
between the granite rocks, are broad strata of brittle, black slate, mixed with layers of cpiartz 
and feldspath, and with micaceous schistus. The quartz includes thin strata of mica, of the 

h 2 



[Chap. II. 


[Mount Serbal.] 

most brilliant white colour, which is quite dazzling in the sun, and forms a striking contrast 
with the blackened surface of the white and red granite. 

The mountain of Serbal seems to the author of this work of peculiar interest, from the con- 
siderations which in another place a led him to conjecture that this, and not the so-called Jebel 
Mousa, is the mount on which the law was delivered to Moses. The present merely descrip- 
tive account does not require us to re-state the arguments on which this conclusion was 
founded, or to add those further considerations which we may adduce in a subsequent page. 
It is sufficient now to remind or apprise the reader that this is the view which we have taken, 
and which we have more lately seen no occasion to modify. 

The French commissioners seem to be the only persons who mention this mountain by 
name, prior to Burckhardt, and he is still the only traveller by whom it has been ascended. It 
illustrates the singleness of object of the old pilgrim travellers, that although they could not 
but see this remarkable mountain, none of them condescend to notice it in their books, as it 
was not pointed out to them as connected with any of the circumstances which made this region 
venerable to them. The only notice of it we have been able to find is in Morison, who men- 
tions it as " une haute montagne," without naming it or giving any description. It has been 
treated with rather more respect since Burckhardt directed attention to it ; but it is generally 
despatched in a few lines, in which its general aspect is stated ; travellers who come land-wise 
from Suez being careful to reserve their descriptive resources for Mounts St. Catherine and 
Mousa ; and those who, having come by water to Tor and returning by land, have already 
been at those mountains, find, by the time they get to Mount Serbal, that their resources of 
this kind are exhausted. 

The mountain has in all five peaks, the two highest of which are those to the east, one of 
which Burckhardt ascended. These rise like cones, and are distinguishable from a great dis- 
tance, particularly on the road from Suez. The ascent is very difficult ; and Burckhardt was 
completely exhausted by the time he reached the lower summit, to climb to which took him not 
less than four hours. Here there is a small plain with some trees, and the ruins of a small 
reservoir for water. After reposing here for a while, our traveller ascended the eastern peak, 
and reached its top in three quarters of an hour, after great exertion ; for the rock is so smooth 

a ' Pictorial Bible ;' note on Exod. xix. 2. 

Chap. II.] MOUNTAINS. liii 

and slippery as well as steep, that, although barefooted, he was obliged frequently to crawl 
upon his belly to avoid being precipitated below ; and had he not casually met with a few 
shrubs to grasp, he would probably have been obliged to abandon the attempt, or have rolled 
down the cliff. The summit of this eastern peak consists of one enormous mass of granite, the 
smoothness of which is broken by only a few partial fissures, presenting an appearance not 
unlike the ice-covered tops of the Alps. The sides of this peak, at a few paces below its top, 
are formed of large insulated blocks, thirty or forty feet long, which appear as if just suspended 
in the act of rushing down the steep. Near the top there are steps regularly formed with 
large loose stones, which must have been brought from below, and so judiciously are they 
arranged, that they have resisted the devastations of time, and may still be used for the ascent. 
Burckhardt was afterwards informed that these steps are the continuation of a regular path 
from the bottom of the mountain, which is in several parts cut through the rock with great 
labour. The eastern peak, which from below looks as sharp as a needle, has a platform on its 
summit of about fifty paces in circumference. On this is a heap of small loose stones about 
two feet high, forming a circle about twelve feet in diameter. Just below the top, every 
granite block that presents a smooth surface, offers inscriptions, the greater part of which are 
illegible. Similar inscriptions are found on the sides of the small caverns, large enough to 
hold a few persons, which exist between the masses of stone. 

As the eye is very apt to be deceived in estimating the relative heights of mountains, Burck- 
hardt hesitates to give any positive opinion as to that of Mount Serbal ; but it seemed to him 
to be higher than all the peaks, including Jebel Mousa, and very little lower than Mount St. 

That this mountain is the " Mount Paran " of Scripture, which name the valley below it still 
bears ; and that it is also the Sinai, from which the law was delivered, we entertain no manner 
of doubt; but as, at present, we can hope to carry only the readers of " the Pictorial Bible" 
with us in that conviction, we only allude to it in order to explain and justify the attention we 
have bestowed on this mountain. 

So much has been said of the inscriptions found on the rocks and cliffs of Sinai, that we 
also may be expected to say something about them. It is remarkable that those near the 
summit of Mount Serbal are alone those which are found on the higher mountains, or which 
are engraved on granite, if we except those which are found in the valley at the foot of Mount 
St. Catherine, and which appear to have been the work of pilgrims visiting the rock in 
that place which is absurdly alleged to be that which was stricken by Moses. With these 
exceptions, the inscriptions are, in general, little more than scratches on the smooth cliffs, of 
sandstone and other comparatively soft rocks, of the hills and sides of the valleys in the lower 
region of Sinai. They consist of writing in characters which no one has been able to decipher, 
and of rude figures of animals. When the existence of such inscriptions was first made known 
to the European public, some sensation was excited by the notion that they were the work 
of the Israelites during their sojourn in this region. This notion has long been relinquished ; 
and although no certainty has been attained, yet, as these inscriptions occur exclusively 
on the road to Mount Serbal, and from then?e to the alleged stone which Moses struck in 
Rephidim, and from other considerations which we need not now state, it would seem that 
they were the work of pilgrims — probably in and prior to the sixth century — at a time when 
Mount Serbal was regarded, as we still believe it to be, as the true Sinai of the sacred writings. 
The animal figures, interspersed or detached, we are disposed to regard, with Burckhardt, as 
not traceable to the same source, but as being the work of the Bedouin shepherds of the penin- 
sula : for while these figures are executed in a ruder manner and with a less steady hand than 
the inscriptions, they exclusively represent such animals as are natives of the peninsula, — as 
camels, mountain and other goats, and gazelles, but principally the two first; and it is an 
ascertained fact, that the present Bedouins of the peninsula are in the habit of carving the 
figures of goats, at least, upon rocks and in grottos. Speaking of the inscriptions which 
appear on the rocks lying near what always appears to have been a resting-place for pilgrims 
and travellers, Burckhardt observes, " they have evidently been done in great haste and very 



[Chap. II. 

rudely, sometimes with large letters and sometimes with small, and seldom in straight lines. 
The characters appear to be written from right to left, and although mere scratches, an instru- 
ment of metal must have been employed, for the rock, although of sandstone, is of considerable 
hardness. Some of the letters are not larger than half an inch; but they are generally about 
fifteen lines in height and four lines in breadth. The same character is seen at the beginning 
of almost every line, whence it appears that none of the inscriptions are of any length, but that 
they consist merely of short phrases, all similar to each other, in the beginning, at least. 
They are, perhaps, prayers, or the names of pilgrims, on their way to Mount Sinai, who had 
rested under this rock." 

But the principal display of such inscriptions is found in the Wady Mokatteb or the Written 
Valley, which lies on the most frequented road to Serbal and Sinai, and where the cliffs are so 
situated as to afford a fine shelter to travellers during the mid-day hours, to which circum- 
stances may, doubtless, be attributed the numerous inscriptions found in the valley. This 
valley extends for about three hours' march in the direction N.W. ; in the upper part it is three 
miles across, having to the left (coming from Sinai) high mountains ; and to the right, a chain 
of lower sandstone hills. Half way down it becomes narrower, and then takes the name of 
Seyh Szeder. In most places the sandstone rocks present abrupt cliffs, twenty or thirty feet 
high. Large masses have separated themselves from these cliffs, and lie at their feet in the 
valley. The cliffs and rocks are thickly covered with inscriptions, which are continued, with 
intervals of a few hundred paces only, for at least six miles ; and similar inscriptions are found, 
in the lower part of the valley, where it narrows, upon the sandstone rocks of the opposite or 
north-eastern side of the valley. They are exactly of the same kind as those which have 
already been mentioned. Some of them are cut at the height of twelve or fifteen feet, which 
must have required a ladder to ascend to them. They are in general cut deeper than those in 
the granite of the upper country, but in the same careless style. Among these many are 
evidently Greek, containing, probably, like the others, the names of those who passed here in 
their pilgrimage to the holy mountain. Some of the latter contain Jewish names in Greek 

[Wady Mokatteb.] 

Chap. II.] 



characters. There is a vast number of drawings of mountain goats and camels, the latter being 
sometimes represented as laden and with riders on their backs. Crosses are also seen, indi- 
cating that the inscribers were Christians. 

We have seen that Burckhardt calls the stone of Wady Mokatteb, sandstone. Laborde 
describes it as a crumbly freestone; and M. de Roziere, viewing and figuring it as a mineralo- 
gist, more precisely indicates it as psammite — " the psammite of Mokatteb," and describes it 
as composed of small quartzose grains, rather unequal, feebly aggregated, and strewn with 
micaceous spangles. With this correction as to the nature of the stone, Laborde's account of 
the manner in which nature appears to have prepared these vast tablets to receive the writings 
which they bear, deserves attention. The effect of running waters, as well as of the humidity 
of the atmosphere, is to undermine the base of the crumbly rocks in which the bed of this 
valley is hollowed out. Having then no support, they fall away, leaving behind them a smooth 
and uniform surface. The rocks may be supposed to have been thus undermined at the 
base when one of those earthquakes, of which evident traces remain, disturbed them with 
sufficient violence to cause the whole of the covering so unsupported to fall to pieces. The 
walls of the valley then appeared such as they are at the present day, — uniform throughout 
their whole extent, and defended at bottom by the masses which had been detached from 
them. The pilgrims who passed found these immense tablets too inviting not to multiply 
upon them their names, their wishes, and the usual exclamations of travellers ; and the rocks, 
not having then been hardened by the air, easily received the short inscriptions they wished 
them to bear. a 

a The authorities which have been consulted for the preceding account of Siuai are, Morison, M. de Roziere (in Description de 
1'Egypto), Burckhardt, Henniker, Laborde, Stephens, Lord Lyndsay, &c. 


C) Height of Lebanon, p. xxxii. — The 
mountains of Lebanon being the highest in 
the whole chain of the Syrian mountains, and 
Jebel Essheikh being the highest in Lebanon, 
it follows that it is also the highest of the entire 

That Lebanon is the highest part of all Syria 
is proved by the course of its two principal 
rivers, the Orontes and the Jordan, which, 
arising at the opposite extremities of the 
range, are compelled, by the declivities, to 
shape their courses, the one to the extreme 
north, and the other to the extreme south, of 
Syria. The port of Larneca, in Cyprus, is dis- 
tant thirty leagues ; but the traveller scarcely 
leaves it before he discovers the higher sum- 
mits of Lebanon capped with clouds. None of 
the mountains of Libanus or Anti-Libanus have 
been measured ; but an approximating estimate 
may be formed from a comparison of facts fur- 
nished by Volney, Burckhardt, and Clarke. 
During winter, the mountains, throughout the 
whole extent from Scanderoon to northern Pa- 
lestine, are covered with snow ; and its disap- 
pearance or continuance on the advance of 
summer of course affords a test of comparative 
elevation with reference to the point of per- 
petual congelation, which, in this latitude, 

may be taken at 11,000 feet. Now, in and 
after the month of March all this snow dis- 
solves, except in the higher regions of Leba- 
non. The range of Anti-Libanus generally 
must not be included in this exception: for 
when Burckhardt reached the summit, so 
early as March 22, he observes that not only 
had the heavy rains, usual at the season, dis- 
solved the greater part of the snow, but that 
he found there some stunted oaks; circum- 
stances which evidently demonstrate that this 
must be considerably below the point of per- 
petual snow ; and probably the estimate of 
9000 feet, which we have seen, may be correct. 
Even on the higher summits of the Western 
Lebanon, where the snow continues later, it 
disappears as the season advances, unless in 
the highest cavities, and towards the north- 
east, where it is sheltered from the sea-winds, 
and the rays of the sun. " In such a situation," 
says Volney, " I saw it still remaining in 1784, 
at the very time that I was almost suffocated 
with heat in the valley of Baalbec.'' As, 
therefore, it is only under a combination of 
favourable accidents that snow remains all the 
year on the very highest points of Western 
Lebanon, it is not to be supposed that their 
elevation exceeds, even if it barely reaches, the 



[Chap. II. 

limit of 11,000 feet. The southern part of 
Anti-Libanus, which bears the distinct name 
of Jebel Essheikh (Mount Hermon), is the 
only portion of the whole that appears to be 
unquestionably above that limit; but how 
much above it our information does not 
enable us to state. In one of the best maps of 
the Holy Land (Palmer's), the height is given 
as " 12,000 or 15,000 feet." This loose way of 
stating heights will not do ; but it results, ap- 
parently, from the above considerations, that 
the height of Jebel Essheikh cannot well be 
less than 12,000 feet. Elliot says of this moun- 
tain that it is " considered the most elevated 
peak of Syria, and thought to rival Mount 
Blanc, though the high land on which it stands 
detracts considerably from its apparent alti- 
tude, and makes it a less imposing object than 
the king of European mountains, as seen from 
the Italian valley of Aosta." Dr. Clarke, ob- 
serving this mountain in July from the plain 
of Esdraelon, says, " This summit was so lofty 
that the snow entirely covered the upper part 
of it, not lying in patches as, during summer, 
upon the tops of some very elevated moun- 
tains, but investing all the higher part with 
that perfect white and smooth velvet-like 
appearance which snow only exhibits when it 
is very deep." Elliot tells us that the mount 
takes its name of Jebel Essheikh, or Old 
Man's Mountain, from the resemblance which 
the vivacious fancy of the Orientals have traced 
in the summit of the mountain topped with 
snow, which sometimes lies in lengthened 
streaks upon its sloping ridges, to the hoary 
head and beard of a venerable Sheikh. 

( 2 ) The Mount of Beatitudes, p. xxxv. — 
The hill which bears this name is of too little 
geographical consequence to claim a place 
where the principal mountains alone are pro- 
fessed to be noticed. But its celebrity, as the 
hill on which the Sermon on the Mount is 
supposed to have been delivered, will not per- 
mit us to pass it altogether unobserved. It is 
about thirteen miles to the south of Safet, the 
road from which descends for two hours, and 
then crosses several of the other mountains of 
Upper Galilee before it arrives at the foot of 
this mountain. The Mount of Beatitudes, 
with two projecting summits on one of its ex- 
tremities, bears some resemblance to the back 
of a camel, and is itself low, although the plain 
on which it stands is of considerable elevation, 
and commands a beautiful prospect. " In 
front," says Mr. Elliot, "there are several 
ranges of hills rising one above another ; the 
mountains of Upper and Lower Galilee, and 
the city of Safet, elevated above all, like a sen- 

tinel on a post of observation: on the left is 
Tabor; on the north-west is the long, high 
range of Lebanon ; and on the right the sea of 
Tiberias, with the hills of Ituraea and Gaulo- 
nitis." And, with reference to Safet, as the 
city to which Christ is supposed to have di- 
rected attention from the Mount of Beatitudes, 
the same traveller observes, " Such is the 
height of Safet, that from every point where it 
is seen it cannot fail to form the most remark- 
able feature in the landscape ; and if the posi- 
tion assigned to our Lord, when delivering his 
unparalleled discourse, be correct, Bethulia, 
the ancient Safet, rose in unrivalled majesty 
immediately before him." 

( 3 ) Carmel, p. xxxviii. — " Padre Camillo (one 
of the monks of the convent on Mount Car- 
mel) was unwilling to leave his cave, and, as 
the rain had again commenced, we remained 
there for an hour or two longer. ' What a place 
for uninterrupted contemplation !' cried he. 
' Here, indeed,' spouting out a passage from 
his favourite historian, he continued, ' the 
plants, the rugged rocks, the moaning of the 
wind, the prospect of the ocean, the murmur- 
ing of the streams, the lowing of the herds, 
the frisking of the flocks, the shady valley, the 
singing of the birds, the delightful clime, the 
variety of flowers, the odour of the aromatic 
herbs, how they refresh the soul !' This 
sounded very sweetly in Italian; and as he de- 
livered it with all his heart, standing in the 
mouth of the cave as if he had been before an 
altar, from the very spot where so much was 
in reality assembled, too, it came with great 
force, for the catalogue is not overcharged." 
— Skinner, i. 103. 

( 4 ) Levels in Sinai and Palestine, p. xli. 
— Since the first portion of this chapter was 
printed, we have seen in the ' Athenaeum' (No. 
600) a report of the proceedings at a meeting 
of the Geographical Society, when an abstract 
was read of Mr. Russegger's journey from Sinai 
to Hebron and Jerusalem. The notice, though 
short, is exceedingly valuable, from the inform- 
ation which it gives on a subject which has 
been entirely overlooked by the mass of tra- 
vellers. We therefore transcribe nearly the 
whole of it :— 

" On his return from Egypt at the close of 
1838, Mr. Russegger went to Suez, and from 
that point set out, in a south-east direction, to 
ascend Mount Sinai ; and he gives a series of 
barometrical levels, from the shores of the Red 
Sea to the summit of Mount St. Catherine, 
which, by his measurements, rises 8168 French 
feet above the sea. From Mount Sinai he 

Chap. II.] 



crossed the desert of El Tyh, in a direct north 
line to Hebron, and obtained twenty-two levels 
on this route also : from Hebron he went to 
Bethlehem, and found its elevation to be 2528 
feet ; and thence to Jerusalem, which he states 
at 2479 French, or 2640 English feet. 

" Mr. Russegger devoted much attention to 
the barometric measurements of the level of 
the Dead Sea ; and, after other observations, 
on hanging up his barometer on the shores of 
that sea, he could no longer continue his obser- 

vations, for the quicksilver rose to the top of 
the tube. He then calculates the following 
depressions: — village of Rihhah (supposed Je- 
richo), in the valley of the Jordan, 774 feet ; 
bathing-place of the pilgrims in the Jordan, 
1269 feet ; and the Dead Sea, at its northern 
end, 1319 French feet, or nearly 1400 English 
feet below the level of the Mediterranean !" 
We shall await with impatience the more ex- 
tended information which Mr. Russegger must 
be prepared to give. 

VOL. I. 



[Rock of Moses.] 

Our information concerning the geology and mineralogy of Palestine is remarkably imperfect 
and indistinct : for these were matters which the older travellers entirely overlooked ; and the 
dispersed and incidental notices with which we have more lately been supplied are found to be 
very defective, when an attempt is made to combine their facts in one connected statement. 
Hasselquist, Shaw, Volney, De Roziere, Seetzen, Clarke, Burckhardt, Irby and Mangles, and 
Buckingham, furnish nearly all the information which can be obtained ; and that is only such 
as will supply materials for the statement which we have now to offer. That it is a very 
imperfect one we know ; but are persuaded that it comprises the substance of all existing 
information, and that nothing of any consequence has escaped our researches. 

Some geological information has been given in the preceding chapter, particularly as regards 
the mountains of Seir and Sinai ; and indeed all the information which we are now about to 
supply might have been incorporated with that chapter, had it not seemed more desirable to 
separate, when it could conveniently be managed, the descriptive from the scientific details. 
This chapter, therefore, must necessarily assume the form of a scientific appendix or sequel to 
the preceding ; while we shall endeavour, as far as possible, to divest the statements we have 
to offer of that technical character which might perhaps exclude them from the attention of 
the general reader. 

Limestone is the prevailing constituent of the mountains of all Syria,* as well as of Asia 

a As somfi writers distinguish Palestine and Phcenicia/rom Syria, we take this opportunity of stating that, wherever we use the 
name " Syria/' without clearly expressing or implying such a distinction, we use it as a proper and convenient general name for 
all that region extending from Asia Minor to the borders of Arabia and Egypt, of which Palestine and Phoenicia are but parts. 


Minor and Greece. The general character of the stone of the mountains which compose the 
great central ridges of Syria, or which ramify from them, is that of a hard calcareous rock, 
sonorous when struck, and of a whitish or pale yellow colour. It is, in short, a very hard kind 
of limestone, disposed in strata variously inclined, and, like all limestone strata, affording a 
great number of caverns, to which frequent allusion is made in the Scriptures. Some of them 
are capable of containing 1500 men, and there is one, near Damascus, which will even afford 
shelter to 4000. In mountains of this construction it is not unusual for huge masses of rock to 
take the shape of ruins of towns and castles. This is remarkably observed in the road from 
Aleppo to Hamah, but scarcely in any part of Palestine.* 

The prevailing character of the constituent rock undergoes, of course, various modifications 
of texture, colour, form and intermixture, in different parts of the country ; and, commencing 
at the north, it may be useful to specify some of the appearances which, in different localities, 
it exhibits, and some of the more remarkable changes which it sustains. But it is to be re- 
gretted that the travellers who notice such particulars seldom mention the extent in which 
their statement is to be understood ; so that it is seldom possible to distinguish whether the 
recorded appearance is strictly local or of extensive range. 

In the far north — that is, in the hills which bound on the north the plain in which stood 
the ancient Hamath — the calcareous rock is noticed by Burckhardt as being "of considerable 
hardness, and of a reddish yellow colour." 

That the name " Lebanon " is formed from a word signifying whiteness is, we imagine, not 
because of the snow which, during part of the year, covers the summits, but on account of 
that whitish colour which has been described as one of the general characteristics of these 
mountains. This may be exemplified by the observation of Buckingham, who, in his ascent 
from the sea-shore (at Tripoli) to the cedars, rested on Jebel Ainneto, and there noted that the 
mountain on which he stood was wholly composed of white limestone of different qualities ; 
and that the lower mountains over which he had passed, and which now lay under his view, 
seemed very much to resemble the white hills on the banks of the Jordan, as seen from 
the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem. This comparison is valuable. At a point more 
elevated in the same quarter, but some miles more to the south, at the point where the name 
of Jebel Libnan noiv terminates, Burckhardt observes that the rocks are all in perfectly 
horizontal layers, some of which are thirty or forty yards, while others are only a few yards, 
in thickness. 13 

From carefully comparing the different authorities on the subject, it appears to us that the 
texture of the rock which lines the valley of the Jordan and its lakes is much less dense than 
that of Lebanon, or even of that in the central parts of Palestine. It appears also that, along 
this valley, the density of the rock diminishes as we proceed southward, at least as far as the 
Dead Sea. We know certainly that the texture of the rock is more loose and light along the 
valley of the Jordan than it is in Lebanon or in the heart of Palestine : we know also that the 
stone which lines the basin of the Dead Sea is of still less density than this ; and, although we 
know not exactly whether the stone of Mount Seir, still more to the south, is more or less 
dense than that of the Dead Sea, we do know that it is a stone easily wrought, and that its 
texture is very loose. 

Buckingham speaks of the rock at the ruins near Om Keis as of " coarse grey limestone," 
and it probably extends throughout this district, as Burckhardt speaks of the uniform appear- 
ance of the calcareous stone in all the country between the rivers Mandhour and Zerka. In 
this neighbourhood — that is, off the south-east of the Lake of Gennesareth — there is a con- 
siderable display of that black basaltic rock which we shall hereafter have much occasion to 
notice. The river Mandhour, which passes to the north of the high plain of Om Keis, towards 
the Jordan, flows through a deep bed of it : the western declivities of the same plain are also 
basaltic ; and eastward, in the way from Hebras to Om Keis, Burckhardt saw alternate layers 
of calcareous and basaltic rock, with thin layers of flint. None of this appears in the higher 
mountains southward to the Zerka, which are entirely calcareous ; but the mountain inime- 

» Clarke, iv. 202. Volney, i. 280. b Buickhardt, 145, 25. Buckingham's 'Ar;ib Tribes,' 468. 

i 2 


diately to the south of that river exhibits the calcareous stone with layers of various coloured 
sandstone, and large blocks of the black basaltic stone of the Haouran. Mr. Buckingham, who 
crossed the mountains of Gilead a few miles to the south of the same river, notes that the first 
range of hills, from the Jordan, was generally of white limestone, but the second had a mixture 
of various kinds of rock, — showing that the diversified appearance which is observed near the 
bank of the Zerka is prolonged to some distance southward. a 

On the west, approaching the Dead Sea from Jerusalem, the hard light-coloured limestone 
of the hills near that city is exchanged for a limestone of looser texture, sometimes white and 
sometimes greyish, between which are layers of a reddish micaceous stone, or Saxum purum 
micaceum ; the shore of the lake exhibits, in several places, perpendicular strata, formed of 
reddish brittle earth, which would doubtless in time become slate enclosed in limestone. b 

Returning to the east, and ascending southward from the bed of the river Arnon, c we find, 
in the upper part of the calcareous mountains, the ground covered with large blocks of the 
black Haouran stone. Lower down, small pieces of mica and petrified shells are also found. 
Still more to the south, the mountains are all calcareous with flint, and abound in petrified 
shells. Here also are met with fine specimens of calcareous spath, which the Arabs honour with 
the name of Hadjar Ain el Shems, the Sun's eye. d 

The mountains of Seir, or those which extend southward between the Dead Sea and the 
iElanitic Gulf, need not engage our attention further in this place, as the separate notice which 
we have given to them embodies all the mineralogical information we have been able to obtain. 

But the Sinai mountains must again engage our attention ; and in turning to them we may 
again remind the reader that, while the inclusion of this Arabian region in our account, and the 
space we are allowing to it, is amply justified by the superior interest in Hebrew history, and 
the unquestionably superior geological interest, of this region to any which the proper limits of 
Palestine include, our information concerning it is far more ample and precise than we possess 
concerning any other region of south-western Asia. If, therefore, the confessedly dispropor- 
tionate attention we afford to it gives occasion for question or remark, it may be sufficient to 
answer, that the disproportion arises less from any redundance in the account of this region 
than from the aspect of meagre brevity which the want of adequate materials obliges us to give 
to the account of districts which would in themselves be entitled to an equal measure of 

Before proceeding to furnish the additional information contained in this chapter concerning 
the geological characteristics of Sinai, it gives us great pleasure to introduce some reflections of 
M. de Roziere, which he makes in the course of his observations on the engraved representa- 
tions of mineralogical specimens which are given in the ' Description de l'Egypte,' and which 
offer very many examples of the Sinai rocks. " The rocks of Arabia, those of Horeb and 
Sinai, excite another sort of curiosity — a curiosity not arising from their employment in the 
arts, but from their association with the famous deeds of the sacred history and the sojourn of 
the Israelites. The Greek monks, who since the first ages of Christianity have constantly 
dwelt in this region, profess to have preserved the traditional knowledge of all the places and 
of every point which is mentioned in the history of the Jewish people ; and it is this [alleged] 
power of identification which has excited towards this country the veneration of the Oriental 
Christians, and the fervour of pilgrimages. The traveller of every sect, of every communion, 
visits, even to this day, with a respectful admiration, the spots in which the might of God was 
once manifested by so many miracles. These monuments are doubtless viewed under differing 
impressions, by reason of the diversities of religious opinion ; but they inspire in all men a 
certain interest, which makes them desire to possess or to retain a clear idea not only of their 
forms but of their nature." On such grounds he explains and vindicates the very particular 
attention he gives to this region, when his proper subject was Egypt ; and on similar grounds, 
and with greater propriety, we, whose proper subject is Palestine, explain and justify the 
attention which we also give to the Sinai mountains. 

* Biuckhardt, 272, 273, 347. Buckingham's ' Palestine,' ii. 103. b Hasselquist, 126, 130. 

c Now IVady Modjeb. d Burckhardt, 374, 394. 


Having viewed the mountains of the extensive region which our inquiries embrace in what 
may be called the historical direction, from north to south, it may be well to reverse this order 
for a while ; and this chiefly for the sake of the Sinai mountains, that we may see clearly, as 
at both ends, the connections of the general system in which Palestine is involved. 

The mechanical connection of the Sinai mountains, as the culminating mass of the great 
Lebanon chain, is manifest ; but, although the mechanical connection of these mountains with 
those of Egypt, on the opposite side of the gulf, is broken by the bed of the Red Sea, the 
physical connection — the connection of homogeneity — still remains most evident, and requires to 
be noticed here, though not prominently adduced. 

It is, then, observed that all the mountains of the principal chain, from the south-west of the 
cataracts of the Nile to the north-east of the deserts of Sinai, are primitive. In the southern- 
most part they belong principally to the granitic formation ; in the middle part to the schistose, 
and in the northern to the porphyritic. Between the two last we find numerous rocks pertain- 
ing to this very interesting formation, composed essentially of feldspath, in confused laminae, 
and of a large quantity of amphibole (or hornblende), without quartz or mica. This is 
very improperly called syenite by the German geologists ; for it is absolutely foreign to the 
mountains of Syene and the neighbourhood (which certainly belong to the granite formation), 
although it constitutes the principal mountains of Arabia Petraea, and particularly of Mount 
Sinai, and all the neighbouring summits. For this reason the French scientific commissioners 
thought it unadvisable to continue to apply to the stone of these mountains the name {syenite') 
which should properly belong to the granite of Syene, but chose rather to modify the name 
slightly, to bring it into conformity with that of its proper country, calling it Sinaite, and which 
is in all cases to be understood as the specific name of the principal constituent of the moun- 
tains, which travellers unacquainted with terms of more precise distinction describe under the 
general name of granite. 

M. de Roziere draws a line which divides the primitive from the secondary formation. It 
commences in the mountains to the west of Elephantine, and is afterwards found, more to the 
north, on the other side of the Nile, increasing its distance from that river as it proceeds 
northward. It traverses, in a very oblique direction, the Troglodytic deserts, and is subse- 
quently met with following the same course in Arabia Petraea. It cuts the axis of the Sinai 
peninsula at about three short days' journey to the north of Mount Sinai, beyond the valley of 
Feiran; and appears to be prolonged, in the same direction, to join the mountains of Syria. 
On this last point M. de Roziere was doubtful; but his conjectural statement has since been 
confirmed by the actual observations of Laborde, which demonstrate — as shown in the 
account which we gave in the preceding chapter — that the primitive formation extends into 
the mountains of Seir. 

All the mountains to the south of this line are of primitive formation ; while all to the 
north of it, to the Mediterranean, are of secondary formation, and principally calcareous, with 
the exception of a band, of varying breadth, composed of mountains of sandstone and pudding- 
stone, which are almost always found interposed between the primitive and secondary forma- 
tions. There are, indeed, long ridges of quartzose pudding-stone in the midst of the cal- 
careous region, a and calcareous mountains are found upon the borders of the Red Sea, in the 
southernmost of the divisions to which this statement applies ; but these and other exceptions 
do not interfere with the accuracy of the general definition. 15 

We have been accustomed to conclude, on the authority of Irby and Mangles, that the first 
traces, however faint, of ignigenous rocks were to be met with on the southern borders of the 

a Speaking of this phenomenon in another place, M. de Roziere remarks that it is difficult to render a reason for the existence 
of mountains of pudding-stone in the midst of a region entirely calcareous. The causes which have produced these masses of si- 
liceous matter are, doubtless, the results of those grand and later catastrophes which have left multiplied traces over all the globe, 
and the existence of which is recognised at every step by those naturalists who have observed these sorts of grounds. As to the 
causes, the manner in which they operated, and the means by which these incongruous masses were brought to the situations in 
which they are found, we have little but a large number of doubtful conjectures. We know only that these rocks are posterior to 
those by which they are surrounded, and that calcareous beds, now destroyed, have furnished, at least, a part of the silex of which 
they arc composed. 

*> ' Description de l'Egypte,' xx. 319-21. 


Dead Sea, although they are not found elsewhere till we approach the Gulf of Akaba. These 
valuable travellers, in their unpublished book, tell us that towards the southern extremity of 
the lake, the low plain between its edge and the foot of the eastern mountains presents 
innumerable fragments of red and grey granite ; grey, red, and black porphyry ; serpentine, a 
beautiful black basalt, breccia, and other kinds of stone from the neighbouring mountains. On 
the other hand, Mr. Russegger, in a recent communication to the Geographical Society, 11 
expressly declares that he sought in vain, around the basin of the Dead Sea, for any trace of 
volcanic or plutonic rocks, porphyry, granite, trachyte, &c, or, indeed, any rock at all resem- 
bling them. But, as it does not appear that he visited the southern extremity of the lake, to 
which alone the statement of Irby and Mangles refers, we consider that it leaves their testi- 
mony unimpeached, while it serves to show that the appearances which they noticed do not 
extend to the northern borders of the lake. 

We have already seen that the higher or central region of Sinai is entirely composed of 
ignigenous or plutonic rock, granite, or, more precisely, sinaite, forming the principal consti- 
tuent of the higher mountains. 

The prevailing characteristic of this rock has already been explained to consist in its being 
almost entirely composed of amphibole and feldspath ; and the object of the present chapter 
does not require us to enter into the detail of minute variations. Those who seek such 
information as we withhold, may find it abundantly in the letter-press explanations of the 
mineralogical plates (xi. to xv.) of the ' Description de l'Egypte.' It may, however, be 
proper to introduce a few particulars, which seem to us the most remarkable or important. 

In one of the mountains which enclose a small oasis in the interior of the Sinai peninsula, 
between the valley of Feiran and the desert of Nasb, the sinai'te is superposed on beds of 
melaphyre. b Of this last-named species of primitive rock, there are extensive banks at about 
three hours' march to the north of Mount Sinai. 

In another part of the mountains about this desert (which seems the seat of many noticeable 
details) the banks of porphyry* and sinai'te are surmounted by beds of ancient transition lime- 
stone. The most remarkable of these is of a fine lilac colour, very compact, of great hardness, 
and a crystalline texture. It contains cavities, generally round or elliptical, holding a white pow- 
der, which appears to proceed from the decomposition of small shells, though on this point our 
author does not feel assured. Among the primitive mountains which border on this same 
desert of Nasb, we also sometimes observe thick and perfectly horizontal beds of a beautiful 
violet sinai'te, found reposing on banks of porphyry. We have already, in the preceding 
chapter, mentioned the immense block which forms the summit of Mount St. Catherine. It 
is composed of one of the varieties of sinai'te, and is distinguished by clear colour and neat 
crystallization from the porphyritic and sinaitic rocks which compose the principal mass. 
The monks who dwell at the foot of the mountain are thoroughly persuaded that the tables of 
the law which God delivered to Moses were composed of this rock. In the sinai'te of the 
neighbouring summit — that of Mount Sinai — the crystallization of the feldspath is more con- 
fused, the crystals of amphibole are smaller, and those of quartz are more numerous, but also 
smaller than in the other : mica, of which there are some traces in most of the varieties, is 
wanting in both of these. c 

Burckhardt informs us (though without strict correctness in the comparison) that the 
granite of this peninsula presents the same numberless varieties as that above the cataract 
of the Nile and near Assouan ; and the same beautiful specimens of red, rose-coloured, and 
almost purple may be collected here as in that part of Egypt. The transition from primitive 
to secondary rocks, partaking of the nature of what he calls griinstein or grauwacke, or 
hornstein and trap, presents also an endless variety in every part of the peninsula. Masses of 
black trap, much resembling basalt, compose several insulated peaks and rocks. On the 

a Reported in the ' Athenaeum,' April 27, 1839. 

b This is a black small-grained diabase, much charged with amphibole. It is strewn with crystals of grey feldspath of different 
sizes, and containing small irregular masses of pyrites. 
c ' Description de l'Egypte,' X xi. 307—309, 311. 


shore, the granite sand, carried down from the higher mountains, has been formed into 
cement by the action of the water, and, mixed with fragments of the other rocks, already men- 
tioned, has become a very beautiful breccia. 3 

The remarkably polished surface which the sinai'te in this peninsula frequently offers has 
been attributed to the action of minute particles of quartz sand moved over it by the winds 
during a long succession of ages. The alleged cause is certainly in operation, and is known 
to be adequate to produce the observed effect. 

It is remarkable that the enormous granitic masses which stand isolated in the valleys of the 
upper Sinai have been observed to be not of the same kind with any of the beds in the neigh- 
bouring mountains, from which they might be supposed to have been detached. They are 
composed almost entirely of feldspath in very distinct red crystals, intermixed with large 
crystals of quartz, with the slightest possible indications of micaceous laminae. One of the 
most remarkable of these detached masses is the rock said to have been that struck by Moses 
in Rephidim. [See head of Chapter.] The mica joined, in a small quantity, to feldspath and 
to quartz, gives to this rock a place among the true granites. 11 Its very abundant feldspath is 
of a pale rose colour. Other particulars respecting the rock itself are reserved for another 

In the region of Sinai, the granite appears with its customary companions, under various cir- 
cumstances of association. Greenstone is frequent. The traveller from the mountain of Moses 
to the Gulf of Akaba, advances to its shore through a valley hemmed in by a chain of high and 
perpendicular greenstone rocks, and finds that this stone and the granite reach all the way 
down to the sandy beach. Towards the opposite extremities of the iElanitic Gulf, and, in both 
instances, at nearly the same height above the sea level, the greenstone is found with red 
porphyry and granite. Porphyry is conspicuous in other parts of this interesting region. At 
Tabakat very beautiful porphyry is seen with large slabs of feldspath, traversed by layers of 
white and rose-coloured quartz. Mountains entirely composed of porphyritic diabase are met 
with about a day's journey to the north of Mount Sinai. The crystals of feldspath, which 
appear so prominent in the prevailing porphyry, are very rare or altogether wanting in this. 
The prevailing colour of this mass is a greyish green, which sometimes passes into a dark 
green. Pyrites are disseminated in it, sometimes in considerable masses. 

Epidote forms part of many of the rocks of Arabia Petrsea, and is sometimes united with a 
feldspath white with slight streaks of red. These two substances are frequently associated in 
the country to the south of Mount Sinai, and principally in the environs of Ras Mohammed, 
which forms the point of the peninsula. 

The remarks of Burckhardt upon the construction and succession of the lower ranges of 
primitive mountains form a very instinctive sequel to the preceding statement. His observa- 
tions refer, first, to the mountains which enclose Wady Sal, but admit of a more extended 
application. " On the top I found the rock to be granite : somewhat lower down, greenstone 
and porphyry began to appear : further on, granite and porphyry cease entirely ; and the rock 
consists solely of greenstone, which, in many places, takes the nature of slate. Some of the 
layers of porphyry are very striking. They run perpendicularly from the very summit of the 
mountain to the base, in a band of about twelve feet in width, and projecting somewhat from 
the other rocks on the mountain's side. I had observed similar strata in Wady Genne, but 
running horizontally along the whole chain of mountains, and dividing it, as it were, into two 
equal parts. The porphyry I have met with in Sinai is usually a red indurated argillaceous 
substance : in some specimens it had the appearance of red feldspath. In the argill are im- 
bedded small crystals of hornblende or of mica, and thin pieces of quartz at most two lines 
square. I never saw any large fragments of quartz in it. Its universal colour is red. The 
lower mountains of Sinai are much more regularly shaped than the upper ones : they are less 
rugged, and have no insulated peaks, and their summits fall off in smooth curves." 

One of the specimens of rock from Sinai, which make the most beautiful appearance in the 

a Burckhardt, 521, 572. b ' Description de l'Egypte,' xxi. 312. 


plates of the ' Description de l'Egypte,' is named, by M. de Roziere, talcose quartz ; and 
we are told that it forms very extensive beds towards the middle of the route which leads 
from Mount Sinai to the extremity of the peninsula. This quartz offers some slight lamellar 
appearances, and there are several varieties of it. Sometimes feldspath is associated with the 
quartz. The rocks in which the quartz most predominates divide themselves into cuneiform 
fragments, the greenish surfaces of which, clouded with red and yellow, are ornamented with 
beautiful, dark, and thickly-tufted dendrites. We do not know that we have met with any 
notice of simple quartz, as comprehended within the range which our inquiry embraces, 
except in Hasselquist, who tells us that all the stones on the shore, at the north-western 
extremity of the Dead Sea, were quartz of different colours and sizes, of which those pieces 
nearest the water's edge were encrusted with an impure salt. a 

The presence or absence of mica has frequently been mentioned in describing the compo- 
sition of the granites of Sinai ; but, excepting the thin strata of brilliantly white mica which 
occurs in the quartz layers of Om Shomar, as mentioned in the account of that mountain 
which is given in the preceding chapter, we find no notice of it, otherwise than in such com- 
position, within the whole range of our inquiry, saving that Burckhardt found small pieces of 
it at the foot of the calcareous mountains on the south of the river Arnon. b 

Gneiss is found abundantly in every part of the Sinai peninsula ; c but we do not find its 
presence indicated by travellers in any other part of the region over which our inquiry 

Sandstone, which sometimes occurs with the common calcareous stone, which is the more 
general constituent of the mountains, as well as with the black stone of the Haouran, is very 
frequently met with, particularly in the eastern country, and more especially in the south. 
Burckhardt observes that the whole coast of Syria, from Tripoli to Beirout, appears to be 
formed of sand, accumulated by the prevailing westerly winds and hardened into rocks. If 
it were not indispensable to adhere to ascertained facts, it might be presumed that the same 
cause produced the same effect in, at least, some portions of the coast to the south of Tripoli. 
Sandstone also abounds on the shores and among the lower mountains of the Sinai peninsula. 
To the north-east of the higher mountains the calcareous and sand rocks succeed simulta- 
neously to granite of the grey, small-grained species, in a valley, the bottom of which is 
covered with deep sand. Farther on (E.N.E.), travellers pursue their way between sandstone 
rocks, which present their smooth, perpendicular sides to the road. Some of them are red, 
others of a white colour ; the ground being still deeply covered with sand. In these rocks, 
the traces of torrents are observable as high as three or four feet above the present level of 
the plain. In a barren valley, more eastward, sandstone is seen again to alternate with 
granite; and another valley (Wady Boszeyra), farther on, is wholly enclosed by grey granitic 
rocks, which the Arabs hew for mill-stones. Sandstone, red and white, forms some of the 
cliffs on the Sinai shore of the Gulf of Akaba. d In like manner, sandstone succeeds to granite 
on the road leading from the upper mountains of Sinai to the Gulf of Suez, on the way to 
the town of that name. At the place where the granite finishes and the sandstone begins, 
rock salt is found among the latter. Speaking generally, we may say that a sandstone region 
succeeds to the primitive region of the Sinai peninsula, and separates it from the calcareous 
region of the north and north-east. Its ridges are of no great elevation ; and where it lines 
the great valley (of Mokatteb), on the road to Egypt, and other transversal valleys of the 
peninsula, it presents long escarpments, covered with a prodigious number of those inscrip- 
tions, in different languages and characters, which engaged our attention at the end of the 
preceding chapter. Sandstone continues to be very common northward from Sinai, till we 
reach the Wady el Ahsa, near the southern extremity of the Dead Sea. The rock of that 
valley is chiefly composed of this stone; but to the north of that point it is met with very 
rarely . e One of those rare instances of its occurrence in the mountains south of the Zerka, 

a Burckhardt, 498, 526, 537, 493; ' Description de l'Egypte,' xxi. 303, 316, 314; Hasselquist, 284. 

b Burckhardt, 375. c Burckhardt, 487- * Burckhardt, 178, 494—497, 501, 619. 

e Burckhardt, 178, 401, 494—497, 501, 619, 620; ' Description de l'Egypte,' xxi. 307. 


in connection with calcareous rock and the black basaltic stone of the Haouran, has already 
been noticed ; and in connection with the latter it is also found so far north as Jebel Heish, 
to the east of the lake Houle. a 

In the present chapter we have, in general, enumerated the subjects which have engaged our 
notice in that order which the natural conditions and associations of the region examined 
seemed to render most expedient, without paying minute regard to, or altogether overlooking, 
the principles of a scientific arrangement. Thus we first noticed limestone, as the principal cha- 
racteristic of Syria, and then proceeded to the primitive or igneous rocks of Sinai, these being 
the two principal subjects of attention ; and we have just noticed the sandstone, because it is 
in the third degree important, as supplying the connecting link between the limestone of Syria 
and the granites of Sinai. In a stricter arrangement, the black and apparently igneous rock, 
which figures more or less conspicuously along the whole eastern margin of the region 
passing under our review, should have engaged our earlier notice ; but, being so irregularly 
connected with the local system, it seemed better to reserve it for this place, at the head, as it 
were, of the somewhat miscellaneous notices which will occupy the remainder of this chapter. 
This stone occurs so far north as El Bara, forty miles south by west from Aleppo, and extends, 
as we have seen, to the peninsula of Sinai. It is the principal constituent of the hilly and 
rocky districts eastward in the Haouran ; and, in the country nearer the Jordan, through the 
defined extent, it occurs in masses, generally detached. Burckhardt calls this stone by various 
names, as tufwacke, basalt, black trap, and black stone of the Haouran. Seetzen uniformly 
calls it " basalt." On which Burckhardt observes, that he rather conceives this black and 
heavy stone to belong to the species called tufwacke by the Germans. He adds that this stone 
gave occasion to the ancient opinion that there were mountains of iron on the east side of the 
Jordan ; and even now the Arabs believe that these stones consist chiefly of iron ; and tra- 
vellers are often asked if they know any process by which it may be extracted. It is to be 
regretted that in his various geological notices he does not adhere to one denomination for 
this stone ; so that it is not always easy to distinguish his intimations. On the upper part of 
the calcareous mountains which border the river Modjeb (Arnon) on the south, large blocks 
of it are found, of a more porous texture than in most other places. The mountain which 
borders, on the south, the river Zerka (Jabbok), is composed of calcareous stone, with layers 
of various coloured sandstone and large blocks of this same black stone. The more northern 
river of Mandhour is described as flowing through a bed of tufwacke ; but whether the black 
Haouran stone is intended, we cannot distinguish. This stone is sometimes exhibited in alter- 
nate layers with other strata. Thus at Szalkhat, in the Haouran, Burckhardt notes, " the hill 
upon which the castle stands consists of alternate layers of the common black tufwacke of the 
country, and of a very porous, deep red, and often rose-coloured pumice-stone. In some 
caverns formed of the latter, saltpetre collects in great quantities." 13 

In the district west of the lake of Gennesareth — or on the route from Nazareth to Tooran, 
and, more particularly, between Cana and the latter place — " basaltic phenomena " were 
noticed by Dr. Clarke. The extremities of columns, prismatically formed, penetrate the 
surface of the soil, and render the journey rough and unpleasant. The learned traveller 
adds, " These marks of regular or of irregular crystallization generally denote the vicinity of a 
bed of water lying beneath their level. . . . Nothing is more frequent in the vicinity of very 
ancient lakes, in the bed of considerable rivers, or by the borders of the ocean. Such an 
appearance, therefore, in the approach to the Lake of Tiberias, is only a parallel to similar 
phenomena exhibited by rocks near the Lakes of Locarno and Bolsenna in Italy ; by those of 
the Wenner lake in Sweden ; by the bed of the Rhine, near Cologne, in Germany ; by the 
valley of Ronca, in the territory of Verona ; by the Giant's Causeway of the Pont du Brindon 
in Venice ; and by numerous other examples in the same country ; not to enumerate instances 
which occur over all the islands between the north coast of Ireland and Iceland, as well as in 
Spain, Portugal, Arabia, and India." 

* Burckhardt, 314. b Burckhardt, 34, 375, 347, 273, 103; Seetzen, passim. c ' Travels,' vol. iv. i>v>. 191—193. 

VOL. I. k 



[Chap. III. 

On the other side of the river, at a point to the south-east of the lake, where the high 
eastern plain terminates at the valley of the Jordan, the cliffs are entirely basaltic. Ranges 
of black basaltic cliffs appear also on the western coast of the ^Elanitic Gulf, in some of which 
the sea has worked creeks appearing like so many little lakes, with very narrow openings 
towards the sea, and full of fish and shells. a 

We have scarcely found any notices of the presence of slate, excepting about the Dead Sea. 
Hasselquist mentions that slate is seen in the bordering mountains, and declares it to be 
asphalte changed into slate ; by which description we suppose it is to be regarded as bitu- 
minous shale. He also notes that there are perpendicular layers of a lamellated brown clay 
in the common clay of the banks, and asks, " Is this imperfect slate?" If so, as seems 
likely enough, there are two formations of slate going on in this neighbourhood — one from 
asphalte and the other from clay. The same traveller also observes that he saw " schistus, — ■ 
slate resembling flint, scattered here and there on the banks." b Some slight appearances of 
mica slate, in the primitive region of Sinai, have already been indicated. 

In many places along the coast of Syria, including Palestine, the hard calcareous stone is 
surmounted by rocks of a soft, chalky substance, which includes a great variety of corals, shells, 
and other marine exuviae. Upon the Kesrouan mountains, above Beirout, there is another 
curious bed, likewise of whitish stone, but of the slate kind, every flake of which enfolds a 
great number and variety of fishes. These, for the most part, lie exceedingly flat and com- 
pressed, like the fossil fern-plants ; yet, at the same time, they are so well preserved, that the 
smallest fibres and lineaments of their fins, scales, and other specific distinctions, are easily 
distinguished. Among these are specimens of the squilla, which, although one of the ten- 
derest of the crustaceous family, has not sustained the least injury from pressure or friction. 
Dr. Shaw, to whom we owe this information, adds, that the greater part of the mountains of 
Carmel, and those in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, offer the like chalky 
strata. In the chalky beds which surround, in some parts, the summit of Carmel, are found 

a great many hollow stones, lined in the inside 
with a variety of sparry matter, which, from 
some distant resemblance, are supposed by the 
natives to be petrified olives, melons, peaches, 
and other fruit. These are commonly bestowed 
upon pilgrims, not only as curiosities, but as 
antidotes against several distempers. Those 
which bear some likeness to the olive have 
been honoured with the title of lapidesjudaici, 
and superstitiously regarded as a sovereign 
remedy against the stone and gravel, when dis- 
solved in the juice of lemons. These supposed 
petrified fruits are, however, as the Doctor 
states, only so many different sizes of round, 
hollow, flint-stones, beautified within by a 
variety of sparry and stalagmitical knobs, 
which are made to pass for as many seeds and 

That very marked and conspicuous feature of the coast, the White Cape, d below Tyre, 
derives its name from the whiteness which it owes to the chalky character we have described. 
Flints are, as usual, found embedded in the chalk. e 

Inland, there are manifestations of chalk as far north as the sources of the Jordan. Thus 
the mountain of Bostra is of chalk, over the surface of which pieces of feldspath of various 
colours are strewed. But, southward from this, we find little more of it till we come to about 
the parallel of the northern extremity of the Dead Sea, almost twenty miles from which, east- 

a Burckhardt, 273, 507. *> Hasselquist, 284. c Shaw, ii. 135—155. 

* The Album Promontorium of the ancients, now called Ras el Abaid ; both names of the same signification. 

e Buckingham's ' Palestine,' i. 92. 

[Lapides Judaici.] 


ward, large indications of chalky strata appear. It there forms the soil of the plain, and, 
proceeding southward, the soil is alternately chalky and flinty. In much of the early part of 
its course the river Arnon has worn its bed through the chalky rock. Beyond this the 
mountain over which the traveller from the north must pass before he reaches Kerek, is 
entirely composed of chalk and flint. These cretaceous indications occur occasionally in 
the further progress southward, and abound in, and on the approach to, the peninsula of Sinai. 
In one place Burckhardt speaks of the " lower chalk mountains all around the peninsula," as 
distinguished from the high primitive mountains of the interior, in such a manner as to 
intimate their frequency in the lower country and on the borders of the coast. The eastern 
coast of that peninsula, on the Gulf of Akaba, consists of a succession of bays, separated from 
one another by projecting headlands or promontories. Some of these headlands are of chalk. 
Burckhardt mentions one (Abou Burko) which he was an hour in doubling, as he travelled 
along the beach, and which was entirely a chalky rock, whose base was washed by the sea. 
This traveller first arrived at the sea-side, about eighteen miles to the south of this point, and 
there he observes that the grunstein and granite rocks reach all the way down to the sandy 
beach; but, at the very foot of the mountain, a thin layer of chalk appears just above the 
ground. On approaching this part of the coast from the interior, he had to pass through a 
valley of deep sand covered with blocks of chalk rock. Similar indications are afforded on 
the opposite side of this peninsula, towards the Gulf of Suez, as well as in the level soil of the 
desert which occupies its northern part. Thus the hills which enclose the barren valley of 
Wady Amara, a consist of chalk and silex in irregular strata — the silex sometimes quite black, 
at other times taking a lustre and transparency much resembling agate. In the northward 
desert, the present name of which (El Tyh) commemorates the " wanderings" of the children 
of Israel therein, low hills of chalk occur, as well as frequent tracts of chalky soil, for the 
most part overspread with flints. 

Indeed, flints abound in nearly all the plains and valleys through which the Hebrew host 
marched during the forty years which passed away, from the time that they departed from 
the land of Egypt until they encamped in the plains of Moab, before crossing the river 
Jordan. The preceding notice of the chalky districts also serves to indicate the localities of 
flint ; for here, of course, as elsewhere, chalk and flint occur in constant connection. The 
flinty nodules are, however, not confined to the chalky tracts, but appear also in sandy plains 
and valleys. The presence of siliceous strata in the chalk hills of Sinai has just been noticed. 

We have, on more than one occasion, mentioned the chains of hills which bound, on the 
east and west, the great valley that extends from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Akaba. The 
western hills were crossed by Burckhardt at a point about thirty-five miles from the head of 
the gulf, where he observes, — the chain " is intersected by numerous broad wadys, in which 
the talh-tree grows : the rock is entirely siliceous, of the same species as that of the desert 
which extends from hence to Suez. I saw some large pieces of flint perfectly oval, three to 
four feet in length, and about a foot and a half in breadth," Passing these hills, the 
western desert presents to the traveller's view its immense expanse of dreary country, covered 
with black flints, with here and there some hilly chains rising from the plain. b It is a 
remarkable circumstance that the presence of loose flints in this very desert is noticed, in- 
cidentally, in the Scriptural account of the journey of Moses from the land of Midian to Egypt. 

" Coal " is a word which sometimes occurs in our translation of the Bible ; but it must 
always be understood to denote charcoal, as distinguished from raw wood for fuel. The 
ancients, including the Hebrews, if they knew the combustible properties of mineral coal, 
never appear to have thought of using it for fuel ; nor do the Orientals use it to this day. In- 
dications of coal are exhibited in various parts of the Lebanon mountains. Here and there a 
narrow seam of this mineral protrudes through the superincumbent strata to the surface ; and 
we learn from Mr. Elliot that the enterprise of Mohammed Ali has not suffered even this 
source of national wealth to escape his notice. At Cornale, eight hours east from Beirout, 

a Probably the Marah of the Hebrew pilgrimage, 
b Buckingham's ' Arab Tribes,' 98 ; Burckhardt, 47, 502, 498, 495, 472, 449, 450, 444, 445. 

k 2 



[Chap. III. 

and 2500 feet above the level of the sea, where the coal-seams are three feet in thickness, 
Mr. Brettel, an English engineer, is employed, under his orders, in excavating the coal, which 
is of a good quality, and mixed with iron pyrites in large quantities. It is now transported to 
the sea-coast on mules ; hut to obviate the expenses of this mode of carriage it is said to be 
in contemplation to make a railroad to convey it to Beirout, and there to establish a depot. a 

The lately preceding notice of the cretaeeous formations of this country have given occasion for 
the mention of various petrifactions which they contained. We now proceed to register such 
facts, relating to petrifactions, as have not thus been anticipated. The whole subject has been 
much neglected by travellers, or attended to so slightly, that even those who do make some 
reference to it, rarely state to what species the organized remains belong. We have little 
to add respecting the petrified matters found on the Mediterranean coast. Volney, indeed, 
mentions a quarry of schisteous stone in the Kesraoun, at a little distance from the sea, between 
Batroun and Jebail — the flakes of which bear the impression of plants, fishes, shells, and 
especially the sea-onion. They seem, as we have already intimated, to be most abundant about 
the seaward bases of the Kesraoun and Lebanon mountains, and particularly in places to the 
north of Beirout. At the base of that range of Lebanon mountains to the north-east of 

Tripoli, which bears the name of Jebel Turbul, 
and near the fountain of Bedoowee, are found 
numerous stones, white and soft, but compact 
and moderately heavy ; and when these are 
opened they exhibit the impressions, and even 
the skeletons, of different sorts of fishes. 
D'Arvieux opened several pieces, and in some 
he found most perfect and delicate skeletons of 
fishes, exhibiting the head, the body, the tail, 
the fins, entire in the finest parts ; and the 
whole easily separable from the substance in 
which they were entombed ; while the rest, 
without the least trace of the bones, offered im- 
pressions of the same parts as clear and perfect 
as if graven with the burin. 1 ' Mr. Elliot, also, 
procured from the village of Hakil, four miles 
to the north-east of Jebaile, and from Boobda 
two hours south-east of Beirout, some beautiful spars and fossil shell-fish, with a box full of 
fish embedded in lime, like those found at Lyme Regis, on the coast of Dorsetshire. Volney 
says that he never saw, or heard it said, that there were petrified shells in the higher regions 
of Lebanon : nor do we find any notice of such ; unless it be that Burckhardt, in ascending 
to the higher summits, found a small petrified shell, and discovered a similar petrifaction on 
breaking a stone, which he picked up on the very summit, before descending to the cedars. 

We are also informed by Volney that the bed of the torrent at Ascalon is lined with a heavy 
stone, porous and salt, which contains a great number of small volutes and bivalves of the 
Mediterranean. Pococke found a large quantity of them in the rocks which border on the 
Dead Sea. The quantity of shells in various states around this lake, but not near its waters, 
seems indeed to be very remarkable. Not to mention the myriads of small unpetrified shells 
which are strewn over the plain at its northern extremity, it may be observed that the cal- 
careous mountains which are near Kerek, to the east from the southern extremity of the 
Asphaltic lake, abound in petrified shells ; and some of the rocks consist entirely of small 
shells. Such shells are also found in great numbers in the ascent, southward, from the deep 
valley of the river Arnon (now Modjeb) to the high plains. 

In the far southward prolongation of the same line, that is, on the Sinai shore of the 
yElanitic Gulf, shells are found in precisely similar combinations. The largest plain on this 

■ Elliot, ii.257. b ' Memoires du Chev. d'Arvieux,' tome ii. p. 393. 

c Volney, ii. 280; D'Arvieux, ii. 393; Elliot, ii. 256. 

[Petrified Fish, embedded.] 


coast is that between Sherm and Nakb, towards the extremity of the peninsula. The whole of 
this plain appears to be alluvial ; and many petrified shells are found embedded in the chalky 
and calcareous soil. Alluvial deposits, in a state more fresh and recent, are found in an 
opposite, quarter of the peninsula, that is, in the desert somewhat to the north by east of the 
present head of the Gulf of Suez. Here Burckhardt notes, "The plain was covered with a 
saline crust, and we crossed a tract of ground about five minutes in breadth, covered with such 
a quantity of small white shells that it appeared at a distance like a strip of salt. Shells of 
the same species are found on the shores of the lake of Tiberias. Once, probably, the sea 
covered the whole of this ground." We notice this here, as every geological or other indica- 
tion of alteration at the head of the Gulf of Suez, is of high importance in regard to the 
passage of the Hebrew host through its waters. 1 

There are many traces of fossil shells on the eastern borders of the Red Sea ; and they are 
nearly all such as still exist in the sea itself. Several hours' journey to the south of Suez, 
there are extensive beds composed principally of the large shell known to naturalists by the 
name of cama cigas. The beds in which it is found are elevated several feet above the edge 
of the sea, embedded in a fine calcareous gravel, the particles of which had acquired a certain 
degree of adhesion. On the same coast, in the route from the bay of Gharandel to the 
thermal fountains of Faroun, and at the height of 150 feet above the water-mark, quantities of 
two species of echinite are found reposing on a bed of compact limestone, with which, how- 
ever, they are not in adhesion. It would seem that they were formerly retained in some 
friable bed which has been destroyed, — the usual cause of the isolation of echinites. 

The promontory which detaches itself from the point of the peninsula to form the port of 
Ras Mohammed, where sometimes the vessels anchor which come from Mocha and Yemen, is 
a rock formed of petrified madrepores ; some parts of which have, however, still preserved 
their natural state. Even in the parts which are completely petrified, it is often easy to dis- 
tinguish the tissue of the madrepores of which they are formed, although their cells are filled 
with calcareous infiltrations. 

In the deserts bordering on the Isthmus of Suez, and particularly in those parts where the 
hills are of friable strata, the soil is principally of a quartzose gravel, produced by their detrition. 
In this gravelly soil, which envelopes the foot of the mountain, are found many fragments, 
and even entire trunks, of petrified trees, of upwards of ten or twelve, feet in length. It is 
readily perceived that these trees belong to different species ; but the palm-tree and the seyal, 
or desert acacia, alone can be identified ; all the others offering, in their petrified state, charac- 
teristics too equivocal to allow their species to be determined. The perfect preservation and 
the size of the petrified trunks, thus found enveloped in the sands, not embedded in or forming 
part of any rocks, as well as various other circumstances enumerated by M. de Roziere, appear 
very clearly to intimate that they were not brought from any distance, but that they pre-existed 
and were entire on the arrival of the petrifying influence in the place where they grew. That 
these trees were produced in the desert posterior to the formation of mountains of pudding- 
stone, is not in itself very likely ; for in these countries, where vegetation is so rare, it is only 
in deep valleys, or in places which are rendered, by the disposition of the surrounding soil, 
the receptacles of water, that we now find any living trees ; and no doubt it has been the 
same in all ages. With respect to the acacia, it should be observed that it still grows in the 
deserts adjoining and forming the isthmus of Suez, where petrified specimens of its wood 
very frequently occur. Among the other petrified specimens, some appear to be those of 
the aloe and sycamore ; but on this point, and from the causes we have stated, no certainty 
is realised. b 

Palestine is abundantly supplied with salt from the shores of the Dead Sea and of the Medi- 
terranean. Remembering that Moses describes the borders of the Dead Sea as a land of " salt 
and burning," attention is naturally turned to that quarter in the first instance. The intense 
saltness of the water of that lake has been supposed to proceed from strata or masses of rock- 
salt within its basin. This conjecture, as far as regards the bottom of the lake, cannot of 
course be verified. But there are indications on the shore by which it is favoured. Captains 

a Volney, ii. 280 ; Elliot, ii. 479 ; Burckhardt, 394, 530, 454. b ' Description tic l'Egypte,' xxi. 298, 317, 318, 277, 193. 


Irby and Mangles found several large fragments of rock-salt on the plain southward of the 
lake ; and being led by this to examine the hill to the right of the ravine by which they had 
descended to the shore, they found it to be composed partly of salt, and partly of hardened 
sand. The salt was seen in many places to be hanging from the cliffs in clear perpendicular 
points, resembling icicles. Strata of salt of considerable thickness were observed, mixed with 
very little sand, and generally in perpendicular lines. There were also appearances which 
seemed to indicate that, during the rainy season, the torrents bring down immense masses of 
the mineral. Altogether, that which the travellers here witnessed seemed, to their minds, to 
divest of improbability the account of Strabo, who states that, to the south of the Dead Sea, 
there were towns and villages built entirely of salt. 

Strata of rock-salt are also found southward, in the desert of El Tyh, and, still more to the 
south, even in the valleys of Sinai. In several parts of the road through the former the 
traveller observes holes out of which rock-salt has been dug ; and in the cliffs which bound 
some of the latter, rock-salt is seen among the sandstone. In this last neighbourhood it is 
also obtained by excavation. It is white, and perfectly clean : " They showed us some," says 
Lord Lyndsay, " fit for the table of an emperor." a 

Salt is abundantly deposited by the waters of the Dead Sea. The water encroaches more 
or less upon the shore according to the season, and dries off into small shallows and small 
pools, which in the end deposit a salt as fine and as well bleached as that of regular salt-pans. 
A solid saline surface, sometimes several inches thick, is often thus formed. As much of this 
salt as the market requires, is collected and taken away on the backs of asses. Irby and 
Mangles saw several persons thus employed. The briny waters of this lake leave a saline 
crust on whatever they receive or cover ; the drift wood is so impregnated with salt that it 
cannot be made to burn; the loose stones on the shore become covered, as in the salt-pans, 
with a calcareous and gypseous incrustation ; and the crumbly clay of the shore is also deeply 
impregnated with salt. b 

Sea-salt may of course be obtained, by the proper measures, on the Mediterranean coast ; 
and it appears that this source of supply was not in ancient times neglected. The rocks in 
several places along the shore were hollowed into a great number of troughs, two or three 
yards long, and of a proportionate breadth ; intended originally for as many salt-pans, where, 
by continually throwing in the sea-water to evaporate, a large quantity of salt would be gra- 
dually concreted. In most cases now, however, the rocks, notwithstanding their hardness, 
have in the course of ages been so worn down by the waves, that the bottoms of the pits are 
scarcely below the general level. Salt is also spontaneously deposited in proper situations. 
Some of the people with Rauwolff collected near Zib (Achzib) as much as filled a large sack, 
while others were employed in catching fish and seeking oysters. As the salt-pans mentioned 
were exclusively found on the coasts of Phoenicia and Syria, and not on those of the proper 
Jewish territory, we may perhaps collect that the Hebrews were sufficiently supplied with 
salt from the Dead Sea. c Q) 

Saltpetre is produced abundantly in the eastern country of the Haouran, particularly in and 
about the Ledja. It is found in the caverns of those rocks of " black tufwacke " which have 
been so often mentioned in the notices of this part of the country. All the houses of the 
Haouran — the greater part of which are of ancient date — are built with this stone; and in the 
earth dug up among their ruins saltpetre is abundantly found. The saline earth from which 
it is extracted is also found in the open plains, to the productive spots in which the people are 
guided by the appearance of the ground in the morning before sunrise. Wherever the 
surface then appears the most wet with dew, the soil is found to be impregnated with the 
salt. d It will be recollected that captains Irby and Mangles also found lumps of nitre on the 
south-east shore of the Dead Sea. 

The existence of natron, or carbonate of soda, is not confined to the deserts on the west of 
Egypt. On the eastern border of the Red Sea some traces of it may be found in the tepid 
waters of the Fountains of Moses, and in the hot waters of Hammam Faroun, and some 

a Burckhardt, 450, G19; Lord Lyndsay, i. 315. *> Irby and Mangles, ii.; Hasselquist, 284; Seetren, 41. 

c Shaw, ii. 153; Rauwolff, 262. d Burckhardt, 9, 102, 114, 214. 


efflorescences of natron may be found at Tor, and in the vicinity of Sherm : but we do not 
find it accumulated in any considerable quantities ; but only such traces of it as these, in places 
where the calcareous soil has been impregnated with marine salt. The interior of the deserts, 
in the northern part of Sinai, towards Egypt on the one hand, and towards Palestine on the other, 
offers here and there, after rains, slight efflorescences of natron intermixed with marine salt. 

In declaring to the Israelites the benefits and rich endowments of that Promised Land of 
which they were about to take possession, their great leader informed them that it was " a 
land whose stones were iron, and out of whose hills they might dig copper." a And that such 
proved to be the case may be inferred from the frequent mention of these metals in the 
history of the Jews, and the abundance in which they appear to have been possessed. But in 
the later condition of the country, in which, for ages, the treasures hid in the earth have not 
been sought after, but little information concerning its metals can be expected. 

Volney assumed the existence of iron in Judea, and knew that it abounded in Lebanon. It 
is indeed, he says, the only metal which is found abundantly in those mountains. The moun- 
tains of Kesraoun and of the Druses are full of it ; and, every summer, some mines, which 
were simply ochreous, continued, in his time, to be worked by the inhabitants. Burckhardt 
also mentions the iron of Shouair in the Kesrouan, and adds the curious fact that, as the 
place of the mines affords no fuel, the iron ore is carried, on the backs of mules and asses, 
one day's journey and a half to the smelting furnaces at Nabae el Mouradj, where the moun- 
tains abound in oak. There is no doubt that iron-works were anciently carried on in this 
quarter very much in the same fashion, as large quantities of scoria are occasionally dis- 
covered at a distance from the mines, and generally near forests of evergreen oak, the wood 
of which was probably used for smelting. This is, probably, more from ignorance of the pre- 
sence or use of coal, than from any preference of wood, although it is now well known that 
the ore prepared with wood is superior to that subjected to coal fires, because the metal be- 
comes partially carbonated, and is therefore with less difficulty converted into steel, a purer 
carbonate of iron ; and that it is from this use of wood rather than coal which renders the 
Swedish iron so much more valuable than any other. However, the recent discovery of coal 
in Lebanon may be expected to operate importantly on the production of iron in Lebanon, if 
Syria remains under its present government ; and our latest information (Elliot's) acquaints 
us that the discovery was about to be turned to account by the erection of a furnace for 
smelting the ore. 

Mr. Buckingham, crossing Lebanon from Tripoli to Baalbec, went over a mountain called 
Jebel Ainneto, which is composed of white limestone of different qualities, and exhibits, in 
parts, streaks or layers of red, as if coloured by the oxide of iron, or some other metal. In 
the valley below this mountain he observed several masses of a deep brown purplish rock, 
and was informed that this was the stone from which iron was procured, and that there was 
a mine still worked a few hours' journey to the south. b 

We do not know that any travellers have noticed the presence of iron in Palestine west of the 
Jordan ; but so few travellers have been in the habit of attending to such matters, that their 
silence concerning this or any other mineralogical product, scarcely supplies even a negative 
argument against its existence. 

Josephus mentions a mountain called the Iron Mountain, on the other side Jordan ; and, 
from his indication of locality, it appears to have been one of those bounding the valley of the 
Jordan on that side, somewhere not greatly to the north of the Dead Sea. In a correspond- 
ing situation Mr. Buckingham probably found this mountain and the cause of the name it 
bore. Crossing the Jordan about nine miles above the Dead Sea, and then journeying in a 
north-east direction, the first range of hills was found to be generally of white limestone ; but 
the second had a mixture of many other kinds of rock ; among these was a dark red stone, 
which broke easily, and had shining metallic particles in it, like those of iron ore. c 

a Dent. viii. 9. b Volney, i. 281 ; Burckhardt, 27 ; Buckingham's ' Arab Tribes,' 468-9 ; Elliot, ii. 258. 

c * Travels in Palestine,' 322. 


Iron is catalogued among the metals wrought, long before the Deluge, by Tubal-Cain ; and 
this just suffices to show that it was known very early. But in practical use, copper is known 
to have been employed much earlier, and long to have been in more general use, even for 
purposes (such as arms, tools, and instruments) to which no one thinks of applying it now. 
The priority of use is claimed also by gold and silver, — metals which, with copper, are, as 
Robertson observes, " found in their perfect state in the clefts of rocks, in the sides of moun- 
tains, or the channels of rivers. They were accordingly first known, and first applied to 
use. But iron, the most serviceable of all, and to which man is most indebted, is never dis- 
covered in its perfect form ; its gross and stubborn ore must feel twice the force of fire, and 
go through two laborious processes, before it becomes fit for use. Man was long acquainted 
with the other metals before he acquired the art of fabricating iron, or attained such ingenuity 
as to perfect an invention to which he is indebted for those instruments wherewith he subdues 
the earth and commands its inhabitants." a 

An inquiry into the state of the metallurgic arts among the Hebrews belongs to another 
place. It may suffice here to observe that besides the slight intimation respecting Tubal-Cain, 
which we have already mentioned, there is no mention of iron in the Pentateuch until after the 
departure of the Israelites from Egypt ; but Job, whose history evidently belongs to patriarchal 
times, speaks of iron on more than one occasion, alluding to it as " dug out of the earth," and as 
proverbial for its strength. The Egyptians were celebrated for their skill in extracting various 
metallic ores from the mines between the Nile and the Red Sea, and for the fabrication of 
metals : and there is evidence that the Hebrews picked up a fair degree of knowledge of the 
latter branch of the art, while among that people ; but it appears to us that it was long after they 
became a nation before they sought for metals in their own soil or were able to extract them 
when found. They seem long to have obtained from Egypt, on the one hand, or from 
Phoenicia on the other, such articles of metal as they required ready made, or the metal for 
making them in a state fit for use. It is remarkable that iron is not once mentioned among 
the materials employed in the construction of the tabernacle, or of the many utensils belonging 
to it for which that metal may seem to have been very suitable. And although David laid 
up " iron in abundance " for the service of the temple to be built by his son, the account of 
the actual construction does not inform us how the metal was employed. When the Israelites 
defeated the Midianites, iron occurs among the spoil obtained by the conquerors, and is, with 
the more precious metals, directed to be purified (from its ceremonial uncleanness) by being 
passed through the fire. Upon the whole, it seems doubtful that the Hebrews ever worked 
the mines of their own country to any important extent, if at all ; and although iron may, in 
later times, have been plentifully in use among them as compared with other metals, such 
plenty would be scarcity, and is so even now in Western Asia, compared with the abundance 
in which this metal is possessed by ourselves. 

Of copper we can find no information. Volney, b indeed, heard a vague report that there 
was anciently a copper-mine near Aleppo, but which must long since have been abandoned. 
This, besides, was far beyond the limits of Palestine. The ancient application of this metal 
to all purposes for which iron is now employed has been noticed in the preceding paragraphs ; 
and this went so far, that even tools for cutting stone were made with this metal hardened by 
an alloy of tin. c But the ancient uses of copper is a subject which has largely engaged our 
attention elsewhere ; d and what we may further have to say respecting it does not belong to 
this place. We shall, therefore, only remark, that although Moses expressly tells of the 
existence of copper (not " brass," which is a factitious metal) in the Holy Land, the metal 
appears to have been principally obtained from the Egyptians and Phoenicians, both of whom 
had it abundantly — the former from mines and the latter by traffic. The Jews were certainly 
not a people to take the trouble of seeking in the bowels of the earth for that which they could 
obtain, easily and cheaply, in exchange for the produce of their fields and flocks. The 
Phoenicians were particularly noted for their manufactures in this metal, as appears even from 

H 'America,' book iv. 125. *> 'Travels,' i. 281. c Wilkinson, i. 241. 

d ' Pictorial Bible,' note to Exotl. xxxi. 4. 


the Bible ; and Ezekiel intimates that, at least, a portion of their supply was brought from 
the neighbourhood of the Black Sea. 

As we have mentioned the use of tin in alloying copper, we may properly add that although 
tin is not found in the Holy Land, the use of it was known to the Hebrews very early ; for 
we find it mentioned among the spoils which they won from the Midianites before they 
entered the Land of Promise. From what source it came at this early date, unless from 
India, it is not easy to discover ; but ultimately our own islands furnished the chief supply 
to the Phoenicians. The prophets more than once allude to its use in alloying more precious 

Lead is also mentioned on the occasion to which we have just adverted ; but it had pre- 
viously been mentioned by the patriarch Job as a substance on which writings were graven. 
And if he lived in the land of Edom, he was not very far from one of the sources from which 
this metal might be supplied; for lead is said to exist at a place called Sheff, near Mount 
Sinai. Another source of supply is indicated in the recent discovery, by Mr. Burton, of 
ancient lead-mines, in some of which the ore has been exhausted by working, in the moun- 
tains between the Red Sea and the Nile. a We have not found any notice of this metal within 
the proper limits of Palestine. 

No traveller in Palestine makes any mention of gold, except Dr. Clarke. At the lake of 
Tiberias he takes occasion to observe, — " Native gold was found here formerly. We noticed 
an appearance of the kind, but, on account of its trivial nature, neglected to pay proper atten- 
tion to it, notwithstanding the hints given by more than one writer upon the subject." b We 
believe, however, that, for every practical purpose, it may be said that Palestine has no gold. 
It is always spoken of by the Jewish writers as a foreign product. As gold was very common, 
relatively, in Egypt, where extensive mines of it were, worked at a very early date, much of 
that in the hands of the Hebrews was probably obtained from thence. In fact, the first gold 
of which we read, historically, was obtained from the Egyptians. But the supplies obtainable 
from this source became, ultimately, inadequate to the demand ; and Solomon and some of 
his successors obtained larger quantities from southernmost Arabia, the east of Africa, and 
the coasts of other countries bordering the Indian Ocean and Red Sea. 

The Scriptures do not mention that Palestine afforded any silver ; yet some traces of that 
metal appear to have been found. When Volney was among the Druses, it was mentioned 
to him that an ore affording silver and lead had been discovered on the declivity of a hill in 
Lebanon; but as such a discovery would have ruined the whole district by attracting the 
attention of the Turks, much haste was made to destroy all appearance of its existence. It 
is observable that of the four principal metals — gold, silver, iron, and copper — silver is by 
much the latest which is mentioned. It is not noticed in Genesis during the period before 
the Deluge ; and, after that event, it does not occur in the account of Abraham's visit to 
Egypt, nor until the same patriarch's purchase of a burial-ground for his family, for which 
he paid in silver. Thus, although so comparatively late to be noticed, it must then long have 
been known and in use, it having already become a medium of exchange and a standard by 
which value was estimated. Whence the Jews got their principal supplies of silver is 
not very clear, unless from the Phoenicians. This metal might be obtained in some quan- 
tities, one would think, from the lead mines of Egypt, if there were no proper mines of silver; 
and the Hebrews appear to have been in possession of a great deal of it when they were in 
the desert after leaving that country. Yet it is thought that silver was scarce in that country 
— Belzoni says, scarcer than gold — and the rarity of the colour of silver in the paintings of 
utensils and ornaments, and of the actual metal in the numerous articles which have been 
found, affords much sanction to this conclusion. 

The neighbourhood of Hasbeya, near the sources of the Jordan, is noted for its mines of 
asphaltum. Burckhardt was told by a priest that in this same neighbourhood a metal was 
found, of which no one knew the name or made any use. Accordingly, on digging about, 

a ' Egyptian Antiquities,' ii. 327; ' Library of Entertaining Knowledge.' 
b Travels, iv. 224; he cites Hegesippus de Excid. Urb. Hiero. lib. iii. c. 26, &c. c Volney, i. 281. 

VOL. I. 1 




[Chap. III. 

the traveller found several small pieces of a metallic substance, which he took to be a native 
amalgam of mercury. According to the description given him, cinnabar is also found there ; 
but, after digging for an hour, no specimens of it were found. a 

It is not in the nature of things that we should have any information concerning precious 
stones found in Palestine. The treasures of the earth are not now in that unhappy country 
sought after by any ; so much otherwise, indeed, that any trace of their existence, which is 
incidentally brought to the notice of the inhabitants, is st\idiously obliterated or concealed. 
If any of the more precious stones are found, it must often happen that they are not heeded, 
or their value recognised, in the natural state, by the finder. And, from their general pro- 
ceeding in such matters, we know that any one who might find a precious jewel, the value of 
which he knew, would be most careful to conceal the fortune which had befallen him, lest its 
disclosure should bring utter ruin upon himself and his house. In this state of things no one 
will expect to obtain information concerning precious stones found in Palestine. Almost 
every kind of precious stone is mentioned in the Scriptures, although there is no passage 
which intimates that they were of native produce. But from the mineralogical character of 
the country, it would not be unreasonable to expect that it should afford such stones as the 
topaz, the emerald, the crysoberyl, rock crystals, and some of the finer jaspers. Pliny 
mentions a species of amethyst which was found southward in Paran, whence it took the name 
of Paranites. b 

a Syriu, 33. 

b Nat. Hist., lib. xxxvii. c. 9. 


(') Saltpetre in Old Houses, p. lxx. — 
In one of the notes of the ' Pictorial Bible,' 
(Lev. xiv. 34) it has been supposed that the 
" house-leprosy,'' concerning which various 
minute regulations were made by Moses, con- 
sisted in a deposit of saltpetre upon the walls. 
It may, perhaps, be taken as an interesting cor- 
roboration of this view, that the houses beyond 
Jordan, where the law on this subject was 
delivered, were, from the character of the soil 
on which they stood, or from the nature of the 
stone with which they were built, particularly 
liable to this visitation. Assuming the ex- 
planation in the ' Pictorial Bible' to be correct, 
it seems most interesting, at this distance of 
time, to find in the actual state of the habitations 
of this region, a satisfactory and unexpected 
reason for so peculiar a set of minute regula- 

Saltpetre for use is collected as well from 
the old houses as from the other sources 
indicated in the text. Burckhardt's account 
is this :— " The earth in which the saltpetre 

is found is collected in great quantities in the 
ruined houses, and thrown into large wooden 
vessels perforated with small holes on one side 
near the bottom. Water is then poured in, 
which drains through the holes into a lower 
vessel, from whence it is taken and poured into 
large copper kettles : after boiling in these for 
twenty-four hours it is left in the open air, 
when the sides of the vessels become covered 
with crystals, which are afterwards washed to 
free them from all impurities." It appears 
that, by this process, 100 pounds of the saline 
earth yield one and a half of saltpetre. The 
production is so abundant, that one person 
engaged in the manufactures informed Burck- 
hardt that he alone, on his own account, sent 
100 cwt. of saltpetre to Damascus every year. 
From this and the other sources of supply in 
the same districts, all Syria is furnished with 
the article. At no greater distance than the 
lake of Tiberias, our traveller saw it sold at 
double the price for which it might be obtained 
on the spot. 



[Hot-Springs and Ruined Bath near the Hieromax.] 

In the country which we are now describing, the traces of volcanic action are abundant; but 
are nearly confined to the basin and enclosing hills of the Jordan and its lakes. " The bitu- 
minous and sulphureous sources of the Lake Asphaltites," says Volney, " the lava, the pumice- 
stones thrown upon its banks, and the hot-baths of Tiberias, demonstrate that the valley has 
been subject to volcanic eruptions, and the seat of a subterraneous fire which is not yet ex- 
tinguished. Clouds of smoke are often observed to issue from the lake, and new crevices to 
be formed upon its shore." The same writer elsewhere says that the Lake of Tiberias, as 
viewed from Mount Tabor, looks as if enclosed in the crater of a volcano, and other travellers 
allow the fitness of this comparison. ( ] ) 

The hot-springs thus alluded to, as affording evidence of still existing means which it pleased 
God in former times to employ in producing effects which are still very apparent, are found 
on the western shore of the Lake of Tiberias, to the north of the town which bears the same 
name. The most important of them rises at the base of a mountain about a quarter of a mile 
from the town, and a pistol-shot distant from the margin of the lake. Hasselquist describes 
the stream as equal in diameter to a man's arm, where it issues from the mountain. " The 
water is so hot," he continues, "that the hand may be put into it without scalding, but it 
cannot be kept there long ; consequently it is not boiling hot, but the next degree to it. It 
has a strong sulphureous smell. It tastes bitter, and somewhat like common salt. The 

1 2 


sediment deposited by the water is black, as thick as paste, smells strong as sulphur, and is 
covered with two skins or cuticles, of which that beneath is of a fine dark green colour, and 
the uppermost of a light rusty colour ; at the mouth, where the water formed little cascades 
over the stones, the first-mentioned cuticle alone was found, and so much resembled a con- 
ferva, that one might easily have taken this, which really belongs to the mineral kingdom, 
for a vegetable production ; but nearer the river, where the water stood still, one might see 
both skins, the yellow uppermost, and under it the green." According to Robinson, the water 
runs from the bath in a strong sulphureous stream into the lake, leaving a yellow incrustation 
upon the stones over which it passes. 

The spring which we have described is not the only one of the kind in this neighbourhood. 
There are several others, all rising near to the edge of the lake, and all equally hot, finely 
transparent, and slightly sulphureous, resembling extremely the spring already described. All 
these are in the same neighbourhood, which from them takes the name of El Hamam, the 
generic name for baths, corresponding, in sound and signification, to that of Emmaus, which 
it anciently bore. 

Mr. Buckingham discovered three other tepid baths, considerably to the north of these, 
that is, about a league distant from Tiberias. He here found three ancient cisterns, open, 
circular, eighty paces in circumference, and from twelve to fifteen feet deep. They are about 
a hundred yards from each other, ranging along the beach of the lake, and each being sup- 
plied by an aqueduct from its own separate spring. The water in all of them was beautifully 
transparent, of a slightly sulphureous taste, and of a light green colour, as at the bath near 
Om Keis ; but the heat of the streams at this place was scarcely greater than that of the 
atmosphere, as the thermometer in the air stood at 84°, and only rose to 86° when immersed 
in the water. 

Continuing to journey northward, along the edge of the lake, Mr. Buckingham found, at a 
place which he calls Tahhbahh (probably the Ain Tabegha of Burckhardt), at the distance of 
nine miles from Tiberias, and three from the baths just mentioned, several other hot springs, 
resembling those at Om Keis, but still more copious. ( 2 ) Around them are remains of four 
large baths, each supplied by its separate spring, and each having an aqueduct for carrying its 
superfluous waters into the lake, from which they are distant about three hundred yards. 

The hot-springs at Om Keis, to which comparative allusions have here been made, belong 
also to the basin of the Lake of Tiberias, in an opposite quarter to those already described, 
being about three miles east by south from its southern extremity, and on the northern bank 
of the river Jarmuth, a Om Keis being opposite to it, to the south of the same river. The 
springs at this spot, and the other indications which it offers, may be considered as completing 
a chain of volcanic exhibitions around the lake of Tiberias. Crossing the river at this place, 
Mr. Buckingham found a black soil with some little cultivation ; and a few yards up from 
the stream, on the north-western side, came to the ruins of a Roman building enveloped in 
the steam of the springs on which it stood. On approaching nearer, this edifice was found 
to be an extensive and complete ancient bath in tolerable preservation. He proceeds : — " The 
springs which rose here presented to us a deep and capacious basin of beautifully transparent 
water, of the colour of those precious stones called aqua-marines, and more purely crystal-like 
than any fountain I had ever beheld. It rose in bubbles from the bottom; but though deeper 
than the height of a man, a pin might have been distinguished at the bottom, or the inscrip- 
tion of a medal read, so unusually clear was the whole mass. The. odour emitted in its 
steam was highly sulphurous, but its taste was considerably less so. Its heat at the fountain- 
head was such as to render it painful to the hand, if immersed beyond a few seconds ; but a 
fact, for which we could not account, was, that at a few yards distant from its source it was 
sensibly hotter. From the fine transparent green of its central and deepest parts, the shade 
grew lighter as it approached the edges ; and around the immediate rim of its natural basin, 
as well as on a little cataract formed by fallen masses of the ruined bath, the water had 
deposited a coating of the purest white, which gave an additional beauty to the appearance of 

8 Jarmuth, Hieromax, and Slieirat el Mandhnur are the Jewish, classical, and modern names of the same river. 


the whole. The quantity of the water and the force, of its stream were sufficient to turn the 
largest mill; and it made a sensible addition to the waters of the Hieromax, where it joined 
that river only a few yards below." a 

It appears from this traveller's further account, that by gradual immersion the heat of the 
water can be borne. Though the Roman edifice is a ruin, and no modern convenience supplies 
its place, the healing virtues of the spring are held in high reputation among the Arabs ; and 
those who have sought benefit from its waters rarely depart without leaving in front of the 
southern wall some humble votive offering, in the shape of hair, nails, teeth, and old rags 
of every kind and colour. The day following, the same traveller crossed the river at a 
lower point, and observed here that the dark masses of rock, over which it wound its course, 
resembled a stream of cooled lava, when contrasted with the lighter soil by which it 
was edged on both sides. The stones of its bed here were equally porous with those seen 
above; the ground also showed patches of sulphur in many places, and "we were of 
opinion," continues Mr. Buckingham, " that the hot springs we had visited yesterday, the 
lakes of Ceesarea and Tiberias, the stone already described, the sulphureous and infertile 
nature of the plain of Jericho in many parts, and the whole phenomena observed of the Dead 
Sea, were sufficient indications of a volcanic effect, perhaps on the whole range of the long 
valley, from near the sources of the Jordan to beyond the point of its issue in the great 
asphaltic lake." b 

In a district the volcanic character of which is indicated by such hot-springs as those 
which we have described, we may expect similar manifestations in the mountains among or 
near which they occur. Such are accordingly afforded. Speaking of the mountain at whose 
base the only hot spring which he knew — that nearest to Tiberias — rises, Hasselquist says 
that it consists of " a black and brittle sulphureous stone, which is only to be found in large 
masses in the neighbourhood of Tiberias ; but occurs in loose stones also on the coasts of the 
Dead Sea, as well as here at the Lake Gennesareth." Elsewhere he says that the same stone of 
which the Tiberian mountains consist begins in the plain of Esdraelon. This stone is doubt- 
less the same which Buckingham mentions in describing the hot springs near Om Keis, and 
that in such a manner as, in connection with Burckhardt's intimations, abundantly proves that 
it exists around the lake, and in the eastern country, far more extensively than Hasselquist 
could know. After mentioning the ruins of the Roman bath at the Hieromax, Mr. Bucking- 
ham notices, that "the whole of the edifice was constructed of the black stone of which we had 
lately seen so much, and which appeared to us to be volcanic ; and we could now perceive that 
the cliffs above, through which the Hieromax makes its way, as well as on the upper part of 
the opposite hills, this stone formed a deep layer on a basis of white stone, almost like chalk. 
The whole bed of the river was one singular mixture of these black rocks, worn smooth and 
round by the passage of the water, but still as porous as pumice-stone, and equal masses of the 
white stone, which was nearly as hard, but of smoother surface." He subsequently tells us 
that he met with the same "black porous stone" in the plain approaching Tiberias from 
Nazareth, thus unintentionally enabling us to identify it with that which is the subject of 
Hasselquist's observation. c 

The porous stone so much mentioned in the preceding statement is distinctly called lava by 
Maddox, as it is also by Mr. Caiman, in his account of the earthquake of 1837 ; and the 
testimony of the latter, while it is entitled to particular respect, as that of an eminently pious 
man and a missionary, evinces more clearly than any other single statement, the volcanic cha- 
racter of this region. It was here that the earthquake just mentioned exhibited its utmost 
violence ; and Mr. Caiman, in his account of that awful visitation, is led thus to describe the 
natural characteristics which the country previously exhibited : — 

" It may not be uninteresting to give some description of the appearance of the country 
which has suffered most, namely, about Gish, Safet, Tabereah, and Lubia. All these neigh- 
bourhoods abound with lava. With the exception of Safet, the buildings in all are composed of 

a • Travels in Palestine,' ii. 208—301, 334, 346. »> ■ Travels in Palestine,' ii. 307. 

c Hasselquist, 234, 15/ ; Buckingham's ' Palestine,' ii. 298, 323. 


that material. Two places bear every mark of extinguished volcanoes. One is situated in the 
elevated plain half-way between Gish and Safet. At this season of the year its appearance is 
that of a small lake, being about a mile in diameter, perfectly circular, and filled with water, 
having round its edges an accumulation of lava to the height of many feet. The plain is 
covered with the same stones ; they gradually diminish as one approaches Safet, and are no 
longer seen from that neighbourhood till near the lake of Tiberias, two hours to the south of 
the former place. Here again the mountains, which evidently once formed the boundary of 
the lake, are covered with lava, or rather in some cases composed of it. There is indeed a 
fertile plain, from one to two hours in width, intervening between these mountains and the 
lake ; but this is evidently alluvial, and the lava accordingly makes its appearance in the bed 
of the lake itself." 

Pursuing our way southward, along the course of the Jordan, we do not meet with any 
marked volcanic indications till we arrive in the neighbourhood of the Dead Sea. The eastern 
border of that lake, towards its northern extremity, offers the only other hot-springs which we 
shall be required to notice. We are quite sensible that we should have no right to regard hot 
springs in themselves as volcanic indications. But their character as such is indisputable when 
they exist in close association with other and less disputable volcanic exhibitions. Such ex- 
hibitions may be found, in the country under our view, without the presence of hot-springs ; 
but the springs are nowhere to be found apart from such other indications. We have therefore 
given to them their proper place. 

The springs to which we have just alluded occur in the ravine through which flows the 
rivulet of Zerka Mayn. Their direct distance east from the Dead Sea may be about three 
miles ; but by the course of the ravine at least a mile more. We are indebted for the first 
modern account of these springs to the unpublished ' Travels ' of Captains Irby and Mangles, 
who, hearing of them on their journey from Kerek to Szalt, made an excursion to view them. 
On looking down the valley into which these springs flow, it was found to present some grand 
and romantic features. The rocks vary between red, grey, and black, and have a bold and 
imposing appearance. The whole bottom is filled and, in a manner, choked with a crowded 
thicket of canes and aspines of different species, intermixed with the palm, which is also seen 
rising in tufts in the recesses of the mountain sides, and in every place whence the springs 
issue. In one place a considerable stream of hot water is seen precipitating itself from a high 
and perpendicular shelf of rock, which is strongly tinted with the brilliant yellow of sulphur 
deposited upon it. On reaching the bottom of the valley, the travellers found themselves in 
what might be termed the bed of a hot river, so copious and rapid was it, and its heat so little 
abated. This heat of the stream continues as it passes downward, from its receiving constant 
supplies of water of the same elevated temperature. In order to visit these sources in succes- 
sion, they passed over to the right (northern) bank, and, ascending the mountain side, passed 
four abundant sources, all within the distance of half a mile, and discharging themselves into 
the stream at right angles with its course. The travellers had no thermometer, but the degree 
of heat in the water seemed very great ; near the source it scalds the hand, which cannot be 
kept in it for the space of half a minute. The deposit of sulphur is very great j but the water 
is tasteless to the palate. a 

There are two places of hot-springs on the eastern side of the Dead Sea. Thus in the valley 
of Beni-Hammad (which Burckhardt conjectures to be "the brook Zared" of Num. xxi. 12) 
such wells are found, with some ruined buildings near them. And, still more to the south, the 
valley of the stream El Ahsa, which enters, from the south-east, the southern back-water of the 
Dead Sea, not only offers masses of volcanic rock, but the water of the rivulet is tepid, caused 
by a hot spring which empties itself into the Ahsa from a side valley, higher up than where 
Burckhardt crossed the Wady El Ahsa. b 

In concluding this notice of the thermal springs of the country, we shall only recall attention 
to the fact that they are all found near the valley of the Jordan and its lakes. 

Of the lake commonly called the Dead Sea, near which the springs last described are found, 

a * Travels,' p. 467- *> Burckliaidt, 390, 400. 


we shall soon have occasion to speak more fully, and shall now only notice some of those 
volcanic indications which it so abundantly offers. Mr. Russegger observes that the mountains 
between Jerusalem and the Jordan, in the valley of the Jordan itself, and those around the 
basin of the Dead Sea, bear unequivocal evidence of volcanic agency, such as disruptions, up- 
heavings, faults, &c. ; proofs of which agency are still notorious in the continual earthquakes, 
hot springs, and formations of asphalt. a 

As in the case of the Lake of Tiberias, some travellers have thought that the bed of the 
Dead Sea exhibited the appearance of the crater of a volcano. This Chateaubriand denies. 
He says, — " I cannot concur in the opinion of those who suppose that the Dead Sea is no other 
than the crater of a volcano. I have seen Vesuvius, Solfatara, Monte Nuovo in the lake of 
Fusino, the Peak of the Azores, the Mameliff opposite Carthage, and the unextinguished 
volcanoes of Auvergne ; and I have remarked in all of them the same characteristics, — that is 
to say, mountains excavated in the form of a tunnel, lava, and ashes, which exhibited incon- 
testable proofs of the agency of fire. But the Dead Sea, on the contrary, is a long lake, curved 
like a bow, enclosed between two chains of mountains, which exhibit no coherence of form or 
homogeneity of structure. These chains do not unite at the two extremities of the lake : they 
continue, in one direction, to border the valley of the Jordan, and, in the north, expand to 
enclose the Lake of Tiberias ; while, on the other, they are seen to separate, and lose them- 
selves in the sands of Yemen. b It is true that bitumen, hot springs, and phosphoric stones, 
are found in the eastern mountains, but there are none in the mountains opposite : nor does 
the presence of thermal waters, sulphur, and asphaltum, alone suffice to attest the anterior 
existence of a volcano." c 

We have quoted this, because it has been re-produced by later travellers," 1 and may hence 
chance to stand for more than it is worth. We have also thought the whole subject, as con- 
nected with an event which, in the other division of this work, has passed historically under 
our notice, claimed the somewhat extended attention which we have given to it in a note at 
the end of this chapter ( 3 ), to which we now refer. In this place we shall now continue our 
own course. 

In the region to which our attention is now directed — that of the Dead Sea — it is interesting 
to note how exactly present appearances coincide with the intimations which the Scriptures 
offer. The mines and sources of asphaltum, the " slime pits," which, according to the Bible, 
existed there before the Vale of Siddim was desolated, are still there, and have given to the 
lake one of the most common of its names. There also we find the traces of that terrible 
convulsion by which Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown, in the same " brimstone, and 
salt, and burning," the same " salt-pits, and perpetual desolation, " e to which the sacred writers 

One instance of the occurrence of sulphur, which is so conspicuously mentioned in the 
Scriptural accounts, has just been noticed in Captain Mangles' account of the hot-springs of 
the river Arnon. Not only the borders of the lake, but, in different parts, the plains and 
valleys to the east of it, exhibit remarkable sulphureous appearances. At a place about 
twenty-five miles eastward from the head of the lake, Buckingham remarked that the surface 
of the soil was " covered with patches of a yellowish white substance like powder of brimstone 
or sulphur, a fact remarked also in the valley of the Jordan, near the head of the Dead Sea, 
and almost in a line with this to the westward, at the distance of about thirty miles. The taste 
and smell of this powder was highly sulphureous ; and my guide observed that the same sub- 
stance was found in abundance all around the shores of the Dead Sea. It is beyond a doubt 
that these regions, from the Lake of Tiberias, southward, to the termination of the Lake of 
Asphaltes, have, at some very remote period, been subject to volcanic convulsions; and it is 
probable that the hot-springs of Tiberias, the bitumen of the Sea of Lot, and the sulphuric 
powder of the plains near it, all owe their existence to one common origin." In continuation, 

a 'Athcuauim,' No. 600. 

b This is not correct : hut the reader is aw are that the southern mountains were unknown when Chateaubriand wrote. 

r Itineraire, tome ii. 180, edit. Brux. 1826. d Lord Lynclsay, Sec. c Dent. xxix. 23: Zcph. ii. 9. 


he thinks that the swallowing up of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah may, even from the 
local appearances, well be concluded a historical fact, and accomplished probably by means of 
some great " volcanic operation," of which the Lake of Tiberias, the river Jordan, and the 
Dead Sea, bear so many indications.* 

To the various notices of the presence of sulphur which we have adduced in the preceding 
paragraphs, we shall only add the information of Burckhardt, that on the shore of the Dead 
Sea, towards the north, pieces of native sulphur are found at a small depth beneath the surface, 
and are used by the Arabs to cure diseases in their camels. 1 ' This, however, is not by any 
means confined to the north. At the opposite, or southern, extremity of the lake, lumps of 
nitre and fine sulphur, from the size of a nutmeg up to that of a small hen's egg, were found 
by Captains Irby and Mangles, in such a situation as rendered it clear to them that they had 
been brought down by the rain, and that their deposits must be sought in the cliffs. Dr. Shaw, 
observing that sulphur is found promiscuously with bitumen upon the shore, thought it possible 
that they had come up together from the bottom. But it now appears that if this be at all 
correct, it can only be so with reference to a portion of the sulphur which is found. 

The bitumen of this part cannot be more fitly noticed than in this place. The interest 
attached to it, from its being mentioned in the most ancient book in the world, in alluding to 
the state of the country, before the overthrow of Sodom was attended with the effects which we 
now notice, has on more than one occasion been indicated. 

As this substance is found in lumps upon the surface and western shore of the lake, it has 
been thought that it rose in a fluid state from sources at the bottom, and became hard by 
exposure to the air on the surface. " / was informed" says Shaw, " that the bitumen for 
which this lake has been always remarkable is mixed, at certain times, from the bottom of 
the lake in large hemispheres, which, as soon as they touch the surface, and are thereby acted 
upon by the external air, burst at once with great smoke and noise, like the pulvis fulminans of 
the chemists, and disperse themselves into a thousand pieces. But this only happens near the 
shore ; for in greater depths, the eruptions are supposed to discover themselves in such columns 
of smoke as are now and then observed to arise from the lake. And, perhaps, to such erup- 
tions as these we may attribute that variety of pits and hollows, not unlike the traces of many 
of our ancient lime-kilns, which are found in the neighbourhood of this lake." c Remembering 
the bitumen-pits mentioned in the Bible, this last circumstance is very observable. Pococke 
thinks it probable that there are subterraneous fires which throw up the bitumen at the bottom 
of the sea, where it may form itself into a mass, which may be broken by the motion of the 
water occasioned by high winds. All that is stated by both these authorities is very possible, 
excepting the last circumstance, for the lake is little visited by high winds, and the water is 
too dense and the basin too deep to allow any superficial agitation to exert any appreciable 
influence at the bottom. Other causes may, however, operate in detaching from the bottom 
any masses of bitumen which may have been there deposited from sub-aqueous sources. 

But the information obtained by Seetzen and Burckhardt ascribes a different origin to the 
asphaltum of the Dead Sea. They were both informed by the natives of Kerek that the sub- 
stance originates in the rocks on the eastern side of the lake. The latter traveller was informed 
that it came from the mountain which blocked up the passage along the eastern border of the 
lake, at a distance of about six miles south of the Arnon. The Arabs pretend that it oozes from 
the fissures of the cliff of this mountain, and collects in large pieces in the rocks below, where 
it gradually increases, and hardens, until it is rent asunder by the heat of the sun, with a loud 
explosion, and, falling into the water, is carried by the waves, in considerable quantities, to the 
opposite shores. The information which Seetzen obtained, some years before, at Kerek, does 
not differ from this in any important point. He learnt that the bitumen oozed from certain 
rocks on the eastern shore, forming gradually a thick crust, which, being detached by the 
wind, is carried along the surface of the water, to the western shore, where it is gathered by 
the Arabs, and conveyed in large lumps to Jerusalem. These lumps are so large, as to furnish 
a load to several camels. But Seetzen understood that the production in this way is slow, and 

a Arab Tribes, p. 90. b Tr;u els, 393. * Travels, ii. 158 ; edit. 1808. 


that it is only after an interval of some years, that any considerable quantity of asphaltum can 
be procured from the shores of the Dead Sea. The specimens thus collected differ from those 
obtained from the mines of Hasbeya, in the north, in being considerably more porous, and as 
having been apparently in a fluid state. In the state in which the asphaltum is usually found, 
it feels cold, like stone, but is as black as jet, and of exactly the same shining appearance. 
It is used as pitch, and also occupies a conspicuous place in the pharmacy of the country. 
The appearances which mummies offer confirm the testimonies of Pliny and other ancient 
writers, that the asphaltum of the Dead Sea was much used in the embalming of bodies in Egypt. 

As to the local origin of this substance, it will be noticed that the accounts which have been 
given are either conjectural, or from the information of the natives. It appears to us that these 
accounts are not incompatible, and that all of them may be true. But if one account were 
to be preferred to the exclusion of the others, we should be inclined to rely most upon the 
information which such men as Seetzen and Burckhardt obtained at such a place as Kerek. 

As here, near the Dead Sea, we are anxious to notice, not only traces of volcanic action, but 
also of the combustible materials which Scripture itself teaches us to look for in this neigh- 
bourhood, — this seems as proper a place as any for the mention of the igneous stones which 
are found on the shores of the lake. These are mentioned in such different terms by different 
travellers, that one is not always sure that they are speaking of the same substance. Van 
Egmont and Heymann, who travelled together, alone distinguish two sorts of combustible stone ; 
for which reason we must give their account first. Along the northern shores of the Dead 
Sea, they picked up " several pieces of a kind of black flint, which burnt in the fire without 
any diminution in their size, though they lost considerably in weight; and, in burning, emitted 
a considerable stench. They are used in the country for fumigation against the plague." 
Other travellers either do not notice this stone, or confound it with that which Van Egmont 
and Heymann proceed to notice, as follows : — " Among the mountains, near this sea, is also 
found a blackish stone, very much resembling the touchstone, and nearly of the same qualities. 
This is also inflammable, and as nauseous as that met with on the shore. The church of the 
holy sepulchre is paved with it." It is a pity that the descriptions, in both instances, are not 
more clear. As one of these stones is found upon the beach, and the other upon the moun- 
tains, it might be presumed that both were really the same stone in different situations, — first, 
in its natural state on the mountains, and, next, as washed down to the beach by rains, and 
there rounded by the action of the waves, and superficially modified by the deposits of the 
lake, were it not that the stone first noticed is compared to flint, and the other to touchstone. 
As, however, it is difficult to collect a satisfactory distinction from mere differences of situation 
— between the shore and the mountain — in which stones are found, the stone which Hassel- 
quist found on the shore may be identified with that which Van Egmont obtained in the 
mountains, if a better agreement is found between them and those which both travellers found 
on the beach. Hasselquist says that the stones along the north-western shore are all of quartz, 
of different sizes and colours. "Here," he continues, "I found quartz stones in the form 
of a slate, which is one of the rarest natural curiosities which I got in my travels. If it was 
burnt, it smelt like bitumen ; which proves that it had its origin from it, like all the slate of 
this country." 

Without being well able to account for the confusion of names applied to this remarkable 
product, we must at present suppose that the stone mentioned by Hasselquist, and at least 
one of the two mentioned by Van Egmont and Heymann, are the same which other writers 
notice under a singular variety of names, — such as, the Stone of Moses (the native name), 
fetid limestone, stinkstone, swinestone, and other equally agreeable appellations. 

Pococke, describing it as " the Stone of Moses," observes that it burns like a coal, and 
turns only to a white stone — not to ashes ; and the fact that it smells, in burning, like the 
asphaltum, does not lead him to conclude, with Hasselquist, that it originated from that sub- 
stance, but that the bitumen proceeded from it. He ingeniously supposes that a stratum of 
this stone under the Dead Sea is one part of the matter that feeds the subterraneous fires, and 
that the bitumen boils up out of it. Perhaps this matter might be set at rest if some traveller 
vol. i. m 


would take the trouble to ascertain the character of the rock, from which the asphaltum is 
alleged to ooze, on the eastern shore of the lake. 

Dr. Clarke, who had an opportunity of examining pieces of this stone which were brought 
to Jerusalem to be employed in the manufacture of rosaries and amulets, to which purposes it 
is largely applied. In this form it is worn as a charm against the plague ; and the Doctor 
considers that a similar superstition prevailed in very early ages is proved by the fact of his 
having found amulets of the same substance in the subterranean chambers, below the pyramids 
of Sakkara in Upper Egypt. He describes it as " black fetid limestone." From his account 
it appears that the fetid effluvia are excited not only by burning, but, when partially decom- 
posed, by friction, which is now known to be owing to the presence of sulphuretted hydrogen. 
All bituminous limestone has not this property ; but that of the Dead Sea possesses it in a 
remarkable degree. 

The asphaltic mines of Hasbeya, to Avhich allusion has lately been made, adjoin the remoter 
source of the Jordan, and therefore may be regarded in connection with the phenomena which 
the valley of that river and its borders and extremities exhibit. a In the neighbourhood in 
question, the mountains are, for the most part, calcareous, and at the bottom of the hills are 
seen strata of trap. The mine of asphaltum is at the distance of a league W.S.W. from 
Hasbeya. It is situated on the declivity of a chalky hill, and the bitumen is found in large 
veins at about twenty feet below the surface. The pits are from six to twelve feet in dia- 
meter. The workmen descend by means of a rope and wheel ; and in hewing out the bitumen 
leave columns of that substance at different intervals, to support the earth above. Pieces of 
several rotolas b in weight each are brought up. There are upwards of twenty-five of these 
pits, but the greater part of them are abandoned, and overgrown with shrubs. The workmen 
are only employed during the months of summer, and Burckhardt noticed only one pit that 
appeared to have been recently worked. The people of the neighbourhood employ the bitumen 
to secure their vines from insects ; but the greater part of the produce is sold to the merchants 
of Damascus, Beirout, and Aleppo. The bitumen is called Hommar, c and the pits or wells 
Biar el Hommar. d 

Returning to the neighbourhood of the Dead Sea, we may observe that the most southward 
volcanic indications which that neighbourhood offers, are those which occur in the Wady El 
Ahsa, and which, on account of the hot-springs there, have been noticed in a preceding page. 

The region of the great valley which extends from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Akaba has 
been too partially explored to enable us to speak positively as to the presence or absence of 
volcanic indications. We know not that any have been noticed by travellers, nor, from what 
has been noticed, are we led to expect that any will be found. 

Proceeding farther to the south, — into the peninsula of Sinai, — however, volcanic indications 
are again discovered. No dependence can be placed upon such expressions occurring in 
travellers as "black volcanic-looking mountains," and so forth, — for mountains which are 
not volcanic may look black, and seem to exhibit the action of fire. We have seen such 
misleading expressions applied to mountains which we know, from other sources, to have 
nothing volcanic in their nature, however black may be their looks. Burckhardt, who is still, 
and is likely long to remain, the first and most trustworthy authority in all that relates to the 
peninsula of Sinai, observes that there are no traces of volcanic action in the more elevated 
regions of Sinai ; but his attention was attracted to some striking appearances in the lower 
region, on the eastern shore towards the point, or southern extremity of the peninsula. Sherm 
is about nine miles to the north of the terminating point, Ras Mohammed ; and here the 
traveller states, — " From Sherm we rode an hour and a quarter among low hills near the 
shore. Here I saw, for the first and only time in this peninsula, volcanic rocks. For a dis- 

a Burckhardt, 394. Seetzen, 44. b The rotola is about five pounds. 

c This is just the word by which bitumen is designated in the Hebrew Scriptures ; and the original of the " slime-pits" in the 
Vale of Siddim is *^J"T J"^}$-)T beeruth chamar ,— the apparent difference is merely a difference in pronouncing the same 
words. The same things are thus called by the same names now as they were four thousand years ago. The same name, 
Hommar, is also borne by the asphaltic cliffs east of the Dead Sea. 

J Burckhardt, 34. Seetzen, 15. 


tance of about two miles the hills presented perpendicular cliffs, formed in half circles, none 
of them being more than sixty to eighty feet in height ; in other places there was an appear- 
ance, of volcanic craters. The rock is black, with sometimes a slight red appearance, full of 
cavities, and of a rough surface ; on the road lay a few stones, which had separated themselves 
from above. The cliffs were covered by deep layers of sand, and the valleys at their feet were 
also overspread with it. It is possible that other rocks of the same kind may be found towards 
Ras Abou Mohammed, and hence may have arisen the term of black (fxikava oprf), applied to 
these mountains by the Greeks. It should be observed, however, that low sand-hills intervene 
between the volcanic rocks and the sea, and that above them, towards the higher mountains, 
no traces of lava are found, which seems to show that volcanic matter is confined to this 
spot." a 

That this spot exhibits the only traces of volcanic action in the lower region of the peninsula 
cannot yet perhaps be affirmed. But we are not aware that any other indications have been 
found ; for, although, with reference to Wady Bodera — another and distant point on the 
opposite side of the peninsula — Lord Lyndsay says that " all its mountains are more or less 
volcanic-looking, some of them resembling the heaps of cinders thrown out from an iron- 
foundry," — Burckhardt himself is more to be trusted in virtue of the more precise language 
in which he describes the very same valley as consisting of sand-rock, and its ground deeply 
covered with sand. 

When Burckhardt says that the Lower Sinai alone exhibits traces of volcanic action, he 
must of course be understood to speak, in the popular sense, of the more easily recognizable 
and (if we are right in so using the word) secondary volcanic action. But it appears more 
clearly from his own descriptions than could otherwise be the case, that the peninsula in 
general, and the Upper Sinai, in particular, exhibits more marked traces of primary volcanic 
commotion than can be found in any part of the extensive tract which we have passed under 
review. The super-position of unstratified crystalline rocks in the Upper Sinai, and the abun- 
dant manifestation of various trap-rocks along the eastern shore, equally suggest to the 
geologist the action of internal heat in ages very remote. The very prominent appearance in 
this peninsula of rocks usually considered ignigenous, will have struck the reader in the 
geological statement which the preceding chapter contains. 

We have now surveyed, with a view to the volcanic indications it might offer, the whole 
long line of country, extending from the mountains of Lebanon to the uttermost cape of the 
Sinai peninsula. Desiring to keep as nearly as possible to the immediate borders of the pro- 
longed basins formed by the valley of the Jordan and the Gulf of Akaba, we refused to turn 
aside to collect the volcanic indications which are offered by the country to the south of 
Damascus, and to the east of the lands occupied by the tribes beyond Jordan. 

To the east of the regions of Bashan and of Gilead extends a broad and very even plain, 
which, although below the level of the high plains nearer to the Jordan, is much above the 
level of the valley through which that river flows, and of the lakes which belong to it. This 
plain, which has from twenty-five to thirty miles of average breadth, and about fifty of extreme 
length, appears to be the district to which the name of Haouran properly belongs, 1 " although 
that name appears to be also used more comprehensively, so as to embrace the districts more 
eastward which have also separate names. The northern portion of this plain is bounded on the 
east by a remarkable rocky district, called Ledja, about twenty-five miles broad in the widest 
(or southern) part, and, perhaps, thirty miles in length from north to south. Beyond this 
district southward, and bounding on the east the southern part of the plain of Haouran, is a 
mountainous district which bears the same name (Jebel Haouran) as that plain. Beyond these 
mountains eastward, is the unexplored region called Szaffa, which we only know from the 
reports collected by Burckhardt, as resembling the Ledja in its characteristics, and being three 
days' journey in circuit. ( 4 ) 

The extensive tract of country comprehending these several districts, still more even than 

a ' Travels,' p. 529. 

b It is mentioned once by this name in the Old Testament, Ezek. xlvii. 17; and appears to have comprehended the Aurauitis 
and the greater part of the Iturea, which the New Testament specifies. 

Ill 2 


that which lies nearer the Jordan, was utterly unknown till the present century. Seetzen was 
the first to explore it in some parts, and he furnished to the European public the first notions 
of its physical as well as moral condition. It was afterwards more extensively traversed and 
more minutely described by Burckhardt ; and although later travellers have, since the change 
of government, ranged the country with a degree of facility and safety unknown in his time, 
none of them have added any information of importance to that which he supplied. 

The immense plain of the Haouran is sometimes perfectly level for miles together, sometimes 
it is slightly undulating, and here and there are seen low round hills, on the declivities or at 
the foot of which most of the villages of the country are situated. The soil is naturally rich, 
and needs but the application of water to render it abundantly fertile : hence for some time 
after the season of rain, and wherever moisture is present, the plain is covered with the most 
luxuriant wild herbage. Artificial meadows can hardly be finer than these desert fields ; and 
it is this which renders the Haouran a favourite resort of the Bedouins. This it may be im- 
portant to note historically, concerning a country so close on the Hebrew border. The district 
is, however, bare of trees, which is true of the whole country, except among the Haouran 
mountains, where groves of oak and other trees are found. 

The mountains comprehended under the name of Jebel Haouran have been less adequately 
explored and described than the plain. Viewed from the distance westward, they exhibit a 
broken outline, and are not of very considerable elevation from the plain ; but their summits 
have been seen covered with snow in the middle of March. The highest mountain is the Kelb, 
or Kelab Haouran, which is a cone arising from the lower ridge of the mountains. This is 
barren on the south and east sides, but fertile on the north and west. Its base is surrounded 
by a forest, and Burckhardt was told that the ascent from that forest to the summit would 
occupy an hour ; and that from thence a prospect of "the sea" [qy. the Dead Sea?] might 
be obtained in clear weather. This traveller states the characteristics of several of the inferior 
mountains of this region ; but, unfortunately, he neglects to notice the geological construction, 
except in one instance, when his attention being particularly engaged by the old castle of 
Szalkhat, which stands upon one of the exterior hills of this group, towards the south, he 
observes that the hill itself " consists of alternate layers of the common black tufwacke of the 
country, and of a very porous, deep red, and often rose-coloured pumice-stone." As he else- 
where observes that this same black stone is found all over the country, and is the only species 
which it offers, we may presume that it is also the principal constituent of the other mountains. 

The aspect of the rocky district of Ledja is singular, and far from pleasing. It presents a 
level tract, covered with heaps of black stones, and small irregular-shaped rocks, without a 
single agreeable object for the eye to repose on, except in the patches of meadow which are 
sparingly interspersed among the stones. In the central part of this district, called by Burck- 
hardt the Inner Ledja, the ground is more uneven, the rocks higher, and the roads more 

It should be observed that this same black stone is also found all over the Haouran, in a 
more dispersed form : that masses of it are also found beyond this plain, even to the borders 
of the Jordan and the Dead Sea. Its presence at various points on the eastern side of the 
Jordan's valley has indeed been noticed already by us, and its character described : for this is 
doubtless that black stone which has been so often mentioned, and to which, under the various 
names of black basalt, black porous tufa, black tufwacke, black stone (or tufwacke) of the 
Haouran, or of the Ledja, various travellers — Seetzen, Burckhardt, Buckingham, and others — 
have concurred in referring to a volcanic origin. It is for this reason that we have taken 
occasion to describe the whole district in this place and under the present head. 

From a comparison of all the various notices of this black stone, we collect that the masses 
in and about the Ledja are larger, more dense, and more thickly set than elsewhere ; and that 
progressively, as we remove from the Ledja, the masses become smaller, more dispersed, and 
of more porous texture. If, therefore, these stones be the result of volcanic action, we are 
entitled to consider that the Ledja was the centre of that action, from which the black stone 

a Burckhardt, 51,56, 59, 65, 79, 93, 110, 192, 246, 295; Buckingham's ■ Travels among the Arab Tribes,' 159, 227, 284 ; Lord 
Lynrlsav, ii. 131. 


was dispersed widely over the neighbouring region. That the masses of this stone which are 
found near the valley of the Jordan and its lakes might proceed from volcanic explosion in the 
Ledja, is, physically, quite possible ; but, all things considered, and particularly as it seems 
that the black stone along the Jordan is somewhat less dense than that of the Haouran, as well 
as from the appearance of the mountains at whose base the hot-springs of Tiberias rise, we 
incline to connect the black stone of the country of the Jordan with the other volcanic phe- 
nomena which that region exhibits. 

The evidence of volcanic action in the Ledja does not rest merely upon the general appear- 
ance of that district or of its stone. 

On the southern border of this district, towards the Haouran mountains, is a town or village 
named Nedjeroun. This town is surrounded by a perfect labyrinth of rocks — broad sheets and 
rugged masses ; which, says Lord Lyndsay, offers an appearance more like that of the bottom 
of the crater of Vesuvius, as he saw it in 1830, than anything else to which he could compare 
it. Buckingham still more distinctly describes the entrance into Nedjeroun as being over beds 
of rock of a singular kind, having the appearance of volcanic lava suddenly cooled while in 
the act of boiling in a liquid heat ; there being globular masses in some parts, like the bubbles 
on boiling pitch, and in others a kind of spiral furrows, like the impressions often seen in a 
semi-liquid when put into violent motion ; and on striking it with any hard substance it gave 
forth a ringing sound, like metal. Several tanks or reservoirs have, however, been excavated 
in this hard material, in which the rain-water continues to be preserved. 

This spot, it will be observed, is about the middle of the southern border-line of this district. 
More to the east, that is, in the south-eastern angle of the Ledja, several Tels, or detached hills, 
are found near one another, among or near the low exterior ridges of the Jebel Haouran in that 
direction. Passing between some of them, Burckhardt observed the ground to be covered with 
pieces of porous tufa and pumice-stone ; and he adds, that the western side of one of these hills 
(the Tel Shoba) appears to have been the crater of a volcano, as well from the character of the 
minerals which lie assembled on that side of the hill, as from the form of the hill itself, which 
resembles that of a crater, while the neighbouring hills have rounded tops, without any sharp 

In concluding this rapid survey of the various volcanic indications which the <country offers, 
it may be proper to recapitulate the resulting information. 

It appears, then, that the great valley of the Jordan, from near its commencement to beyond 
the asphaltic lake, exhibits numerous traces of the presence of combustible materials and prin- 
ciples, and of the results of actual combustion in some former time or times; that indications 
of this sort are most abundant near the Lakes of Gennesareth and Asphaltites ; that the basin 
of the former was probably, and of the latter certainly, formed by the operation of such 
combustion ; and that, in the progress considerably to the south of this latter lake, no similar in- 
dications of secondary volcanic action have been found till we reach the furthermost shores of 
the Sinai peninsula. That, throughout this line, the indications are more abundant on the 
eastern than on the western side of the valley of the Jordan, even independently of the separate 
volcanic manifestations which have been discovered in the Ledja, and the effects of which have 
been scattered widely over the surrounding districts ; and that, finally, such indications as may 
be found on the opposite, or western, side of the Jordan's valley, are confined to the vicinity of 
the Lake of Tiberias. 

Further, it appears that indications of what we may call primary volcanic action, by the 
presence and superposition of ignigenous rocks, are most strikingly and conspicuously mani- 
fested in the upper mountains of the Sinai peninsula, though not entirely confined to it, as 
something of the sort may be seen to the west of the Lake of Tiberias. The mountainous re- 
gion in which the peninsula of Sinai terminates is, indeed, so marked and distinct, and so 
abruptly cut off, by the intersecting El Tyh hills, from the northward desert of alternating 
gravel, sand, and chalk, as might suggest to one, looking deep and far around him from the 
loftier summits of these renowned mountains, that the now separating El Tyh hills did, in some 
far remote age, form the seaward frontier of this region, and that the mountains which rise 


beyond, and now terminate the peninsula, were elevated by subaqueous volcanic agencies, which 
alone can adequately account for the phenomena which they exhibit, and to which such phe- 
nomena are usually referred. 

As there is understood to be an intimate physical connection between volcanic indications 
and the agencies by which earthquakes are produced, such observations as the latter phe- 
nomena require may very suitably be introduced in this place. 

In the first place, it is obvious to remark on the striking illustration of historical over even 
physical evidence, which is afforded by the fact, that, while many stoutly disbelieve the 
evidence offered by such plain and palpable volcanic indications as those which we have 
adduced, no one ever questions that Palestine is very liable to be visited by earthquakes, 
although there is no physical evidence for this fact, or only such as arises from the connection 
between them and volcanic manifestations. There is no question about earthquakes. The 
Scriptures abound in allusions to them and figures drawn from them ; and history, from very 
ancient times down to our own day, bears repeated testimony to the devastation they have oc- 
casioned. There are, however, only two earthquakes expressly named in Scripture. The first 
was of such serious importance as to suggest a sort of date for circumstances as having oc- 
curred so long before or after the earthquake. Thus Amos (i. 1) dates his vision " two years 
before the oarthquake ;" and, with reference to the same earthquake, another prophet reminds 
the. people how they "fled before the earthquake, in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah." a 
Chronological comparisons would fix this earthquake to near the end of this king's reign, 
although Josephus connects it with his sacrilegious attempt to minister in the Temple ; and 
informs us that, on this occasion, the Temple was rent, and that the shock was attended by a sort 
of hill-slip, whereby the half of a mountain near Jerusalem was broken off, and propelled forward 
half a mile, and, where it stopped, blocked up the road and the royal gardens. h It seems, 
indeed, that such slips of the land do not unusually attend earthquake shocks in this region. 
An instance has been mentioned already (p. xxxiv) ; and that such incidents were things of 
familiar knowledge to the Jewish people, appears from the allusions of the Psalmist, when he 
speaks of the "mountains being carried into the midst of the sea;" c of their "skipping like 
rams, and the -little hills like lambs ;" d and also of the Prophet, when he declares that "the 
earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and be removed like a cottage." e . Hence also 
the same resort, in the sublime imagery of the sacred prophets and poets, to figures recognizable 
by the people to whom they spoke, leads them to describe the earth as shaken by the Lord in 
his anger, as terrified by his indignation, and as trembling at his presence/ The other instance 
mentioned in the Scriptures, is that of the extraordinary quaking of the earth and rending of 
the rocks which attended the crucifixion of our Lord.s 

Our information concerning the earthquakes which have been experienced in Palestine is 
considerably defective. But how unusually frequent and destructive they have been in Syria 
generally, as well as in Asia Minor, the reader of history needs not be told ; and although 
we may suspect that Palestine, in particular, could not be insensible to those great and terrible 
earthquakes which have so repeatedly overthrown Antioch and the other cities of Syria, we dare 
not, in the absence of the positive information which there is no means of obtaining, insist 
upon this ; but give our chief attention to those cases by which the Holy Land is known to 
have been more or less affected. 

But it may be well to premise two or three physical facts which we have met with ; and 
although some of them apply to Syria generally, there is no doubt that they equally apply to 
Palestine in particular. The coast is more subject to earthquakes than any part of the coun- 
try ; h the more elevated parts being comparatively exempt from their visitation ; i and from 
this, perhaps, proceeds the comparative exemption of Jerusalem — the situation of which is very 
elevated — from this calamity. The Psalmist is supposed to refer to this in Ps. xlvi. 2 — 5. Dr. 

■ Zech. xiv. 5. b Autiq. 1. ix. c. 10. sec. 4. c Ps. xlvi. 2. <* Ps. exiv. 4. 6. « Isa. xxiv. 20. 

f As In Ps. ciii. 11. 32., xc. 9. 1 Chron. xvi. 30. Jer. x. 12, li. 15. 1 Kings ii. 8. &c. S Matt, xxvii. 57. 

h Volney, i. 282. i Guill. Tyre, in Gesta Dei per Francos, lib. xx. cap. 19. 


Shaw observed in Barbary that earthquakes occurred generally at the end of summer or 
autumn, a day or two after great rains. "The cause," he says, "may perhaps arise from the 
extraordinary constipation, or closeness, of the earth's surface at such times, whereby the sub- 
terraneous streams (?) will be either sent back or confined ; whereas, in summer, the whole 
country being full of deep chinks, or chasms, the inflammable particles have an easier escape. a 
As the true theory of earthquakes appears not yet to have been distinguished, we shall say 
nothing of this one, but proceed to state that Volney cites Shaw's account of the time and 
circumstances of earthquakes in Barbary, as entirely applicable to Syria also. What Dr. 
Russell says on the subject of earthquakes, applies in particular to Aleppo; yet, from several 
slight intimations in histories and travels, we imagine it may also be applicable to those parts 
of Palestine which are most subject to earthquakes. He says : — " There are few years that 
earthquakes are not felt at Aleppo ; but being in general slight, and so long a time having 
elapsed since the city has suffered much from them, b the dread they occasion is only mo- 
mentary, unless the public happen to be alarmed by exaggerated accounts of what may, at the 
same time, have befallen other towns of Syria; and then, indeed, the return of such slight 
shocks, as would otherwise have passed unregarded, spread universal terror. When the 
shocks happen in the daytime, they often are not felt by persons walking in the streets, or in 
the crowded bazaars ; but in the silence of the night, they are often dreadful, and make an 
awful impression on persons roused from sleep." c 

As earthquakes are events, we are somewhat doubtful whether they more properly belong to 
this or to the other division of our subject. But, upon the whole, it has seemed best to bring 
together in this place some particulars concerning the more remarkable earthquakes which 
have occurred in Palestine : as the reader will thus be the better enabled, than by accounts 
dispersed through the historical portion of the work, to estimate the character of such ca- 
lamities, as exhibited in that country. 

We shall now specify the principal earthquakes which history records to have visited the 
Holy Land, dwelling particularly on those of 1202 and 1837, seeing that our information 
concerning them throws more light upon the character of these visitations than any other 
accounts supply. 

In the thirty-first year before Christ, and in the seventh year of the reign of Herod the 
Great, the whole land of Judea was shaken by such an earthquake as had never before been 
experienced. Many thousand people d were buried under the ruins of their houses, and the 
cattle were destroyed in vast numbers. It was attended with some historical consequences 
which it will be our duty to notice in another place. 

How far Palestine was affected by the dreadful earthquakes which visited most of the pro- 
vinces of the eastern empire in the years 365, 394, and 396, we are not informed very pre- 
cisely : we know, however, that the shock of the former, on the morning of the twenty-first 
day of July, overthrew several cities in Palestine, although its effects were the most ruinous 
in the island of Crete, where the shock was the most violent. It appears also, incidentally, in 
the accounts which are left, that many cities of Palestine had been subverted by preceding 
earthquakes, of which no historical notices remain. From comparing the notices which we 
have collected, we find data for concluding that Palestine is never free from the effects of 
earthquakes, which are, at the same time, felt in the north of Syria and in Egypt. We have, 
therefore, no doubt that the country suffered from the violent earthquakes which in 447 over- 
turned many towers and stately buildings in Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria ; and 
which in different parts of the eastern empire laid many cities in the dust. e 

We may well conclude that Palestine shared in the calamities which were caused, in the 
east, by some of the numerous earthquakes which distinguished the reign of Justinian. As, 

a Travels, i. 278. 8vo edit. 

b Few of our readers can be unaware how dreadful ly Aleppo has suffered from repeated earthquakes since the time of Dr. Russell. 

c Nat. Hist, of Aleppo, i. 72, 73. 2nd edit. 

d The Jewish historian gives the number of slain as 10,000 in one place (Ant. 1. xvi. c. 7) and as 30,000 in another (Bell. Jud. 1 . 
i. c. 14) ; which latter number seems to agree best with the large terms which he employs in the description. 

e Ammian. Marcell. xxvi. 10 ; Hier. Chron. 258 ; Macrob. Chron. ; Ambros. de diversit. iii. 1 16 ; August, de urb. Rom. excid. e. 
vi. p. 322. For the first of these earthquakes (365), see also Gibbon, ch. xxvi. 


however, we have no positive information to adduce, we shall only note the probability, sug- 
gested by ascertained facts, that this country felt at least the remoter vibrations of the earth- 
quakes which ruined Antioch, which tore a mountain from Libanus and cast it into the sea, 
and by which the coast of Phoenicia was ravaged and Beirout (Berytus) destroyed. a 

In the year 748, the emperor Constantine Copronymus was warring with the Saracens in 
Syria and Palestine, when he was diverted from following up some advantages he had gained 
by the frequent earthquakes which occurred in those provinces at that time, and by which 
many cities in them were swallowed up and others ruined ; while some, if Nicephorus may be 
credited, were removed, without any considerable damage, six miles and upwards from their 
former sites. These earthquakes are said — as is often said of recent earthquakes — to have 
been by far the most destructive that had been known in any age. b 

The Armenian historian, Abulfaragi, records several earthquakes by which Syria was 
visited in those ages. That country suffered largely from the earthquake which convulsed 
the south-west of Asia in the month Shaaban (December), a.h. 242 (a.d. 856). Very terrible 
earthquakes were felt in Syria in the month Rajam (August), a.h. 552 (a.d. 115*7), by which 
large numbers of people were destroyed, and many towns and districts devastated, particularly 
those of Emesa, Hamah, Shizur, Caphar, Tab (Tabariah?), Moarrah, Apamea, Horns, Arka, 
Ladikiah, Tripoli, and Antioch. During another earthquake, in a.d. 1034, the earth opened 
in many parts of Syria, and many people were swallowed up. On this occasion even Jeru- 
salem suffered, for parts of the walls were thrown down. Half of Ptolemais, the lighthouse 
at Ascalon, and the higher parts of Gaza, were overthrown. The sea retreated three parasangs, 
and many people who were employed in collecting the fish left upon the strand were 
swallowed up by the sudden return of the waters. 

We hear of no more earthquakes till the times of the Crusaders. William of Tyre gives a 
very lively account of the terrible earthquake which ravaged Syria and the east in the year 
1170. He says .this earthquake was felt to the ends of the earth, by which we may understand 
that it was more than usually extensive in its effects. Indeed, he says that the shocks were 
so violent, that nothing like this convulsion had ever been read of in ancient histories or was 
within the experience of any living man. The strongest and most ancient cities were over- 
thrown to their foundations, and the inhabitants buried in their ruins. Nothing was anywhere 
heard but lamentable cries, nothing seen but funereal sights and tears. Among the cities 
overthrown were some of the largest and noblest of Syria and Phoenicia. On the coast, the 
cities of Jebail, Ladikiah, and Tripoli, were destroyed, and the strong and lofty towers 
of Tyre were cast down ; and inland the cities of Aleppo, Csesarea, Hamah, Emesa, and 
others of less note, with a vast number of castles and fortresses, were overthrown. This 
indicates a course often taken by the earthquakes which visit this region. Palestine, in the 
more limited sense, appears to have suffered but little ; and the archbishop makes the impor- 
tant observation which we have already adduced, that the more elevated parts of Palestine 
were exempted from the evils which this earthquake caused. d 

The first good and clear account of an earthquake in this region, is that which the Arabian 
historian, Abdallatiff, gives of the very terrible one which ravaged Syria and Egypt on the 
morning of Monday, the 20th of May, 1202. The historian, who was himself in Egypt 
(Alexandria), says, that the first shock was so violent, that every one sprung from his bed and 
poured forth cries to Almighty God. The earthquake lasted a long time, and its shocks were 
compared to the motion given to a sieve, or to that of a bird as it alternately raises and drops 
its wings in flight. There were in all three very violent shocks which shook the buildings, 
broke the roofs and rafters, and threatened with ruin the houses which were in bad condition, 
and those which were built high, or which stood on elevated situations. There were some 
fresh shocks towards the middle of the same day, but they were so slight and of such 
momentary duration, that they were not generally noticed. The night had been so extremely 
cold, that people had been obliged to cover themselves with more clothes than was usual at 

a Gibbon, ch. xliii. b Niceph. Theoph. ad ann. Const. 6. 

c Hist. Dynast. Ed. Pocock. Oxon. 1663, pp. 170, 392 ; Chron. Syriacum, Lips. 1789, p. 228. 

d Historia Belli Sacri, lib. xx. c. 19. 


that time of the year; but the ensuing clay was as remarkable for its extreme heat, attended 
by a most suffocating and pestilential wind (the simoom). Egypt had rarely experienced such 
an earthquake as this. 

From intelligence which afterwards arrived, it appeared that this earthquake had ravaged 
the whole length and breadth of Syria, where its effects had been far more disastrous than in 
Egypt. Many places disappeared entirely, without leaving any trace of their existence, and 
multitudes of men perished. But the historian knew not that any city in all Syria had suf- 
fered less than Jerusalem, by which only some very slight damages had been sustained. The 
Moslem annalist fails not, also, to note that the ravages of the earthquake had been much 
more extensive and fatal in the districts occupied by the Franks (Crusaders) in Syria, than in 
those possessed by the Mohammedans. On the coasts, the sea rose in an unusual manner, 
producing much destruction and alarm ; and when the waves retired, a great number of 
vessels and fishes were found high upon the shore. In different places the waters seemed to 
open, and to gather themselves into great masses, like mountains, with deep valleys between. 

In concluding his account of this awful visitation, Abdallatiff gives copies of two letters 
which he received from Hamah and Damascus, affording some interesting details of the manner 
in which Syria had been affected by it. The Hamah Correspondent states that the earthquake 
had been felt twice on the Monday ; the first time it lasted about an hour, but the second was 
not quite so long, though much stronger. And on the Tuesday two more shocks were felt ; 
the first about noon, and the other about three hours after. As usual in such cases, everybody 
supposed that the earthquake was the precursor of the last day. The letter is rather meagre 
of facts : but it states that the fortresses at Hamah and Baalbec had been much damaged ; 
and that several public and private buildings had fallen down in Damascus, burying many 
people in their ruins. 

This last intelligence is confirmed by the Damascus correspondent, who specifies the build- 
ings which had been overthrown ; and then proceeds to state, the news which had been re- 
ceived at Damascus from other places, particularly from Palestine. Banias and Safet had 
been in part overthrown. Bysan (Bethshan) was entirely destroyed ; as were also Arka a 
and Safitha. b At Naplouse not a wall was left standing, save in the street occupied by 
the Samaritans : " but it is said that Jerusalem has, thank God, suffered nothing." A third 
part of the city of Tyre had been overthrown, as well as the greater part of Acre. Most of 
the towns in the Haouran had been swallowed up, and it was not yet known that any had been 
spared. In Lebanon there was a defile between two mountains : there the mountains had met 
and shut in for ever the persons, about 200 in number, who were then in the valley. The writer 
of this letter adds that shocks of the earthquake continued to be felt for four days, by day and 
by night; and concludes with recommending himself to the care of God's good providence. 

The great earthquake of 1759 is thus noticed by Volney : " In our time (in 1759) there 
happened one which caused the greatest ravages. It is said to have destroyed, in the valley 
of Baalbec alone, upwards of 20,000 persons, a loss which has never been repaired. For 
three months the shocks of it terrified the inhabitants so much as to make them abandon their 
houses, and dwell under tents." 

A very full account of this earthquake was furnished by Dr. Patrick Russell, the physician 
to the British factory at Aleppo, in a letter to his brother, Dr. Alexander Russell, by whom 
it was communicated to the Royal Society, in whose ' Transactions ' it appears.* 1 As a paper 
on this subject from a man of science is of more than ordinary value, we shall here state the 
particulars which seem of the most importance. 

The spring of the year was unusually dry, the summer temperate, and the autumn, although 
the rains came on in September, might be esteemed much drier than in ordinary years. On 
the morning of the 10th of June, a slight shock of an earthquake was felt at Aleppo, and was, 

a De Sacy is doubtless correct in concluding this to be the Arka of Phoenicia, noticed in p. 7 of the present work. 

b From the indications of De Sacy, this may seem to have been in or on the western border of the desolate region of SzafFa, con- 
cerning which there is a note at the end of this chapter. 

c The author of ' The Natural History of Aleppo.' Dr. A. Russell had been many years physician to the factory at Aleppo, 
from which oilice he retired in 1753, and was succeeded by his brother, Dr. P. Russell, the writer of this account. 

J Vol. li. pt. ii. pp. 529—534. 1760. 

vol. i. n 


as usual, soon forgot ; and it was not ascertained that this shock had heen attended with severe 
effects in any other place. On the 30th of October, about four in the morning, a pretty severe 
shock occurred, which lasted rather more than a minute, but did no damage at Aleppo : and 
about ten minutes after, there was another shock, but the tremulous motion was less violent, 
and did not continue above fifteen seconds. It had rained a little the preceding evening ; and 
when the earthquake happened, the west wind blew fresh, the sky was cloudy, and it lightened. 
This earthquake occasioned little sensation at Aleppo, and that little had subsided, when 
attention was recalled to it by the arrival of intelligence from Damascus that the same shock 
which had been experienced at Aleppo had been felt there, followed by several others, and 
that considerable damage had been done. From that time continual accounts arrived from 
Tripoli, Sidon, Acre, and the whole coast of Syria, describing the damages which this earth- 
quake had occasioned. These reports excited great alarm among the people, and it soon 
appeared that the worst of their apprehensions were to be realised. 

The morning of the 25th November had been very serene ; some clouds arose in the after- 
noon, and the evening was remarkably hazy, with little or no wind, when, about half an hour 
after seven, the earthquake came on. The motion was at first gently tremulous, increasing by 
degrees till the vibrations became more distinct, and, at the same time, so strong as to shake 
the walls of the houses with considerable violence ; they then became more gentle, and then 
again more violent, and thus changed alternately several times during the shock, which lasted 
altogether about two minutes. In about eight minutes after this was over, a slight shock of 
a few seconds duration succeeded. The thermometer was at 50°, and the barometer was at 
28'9, the mercury undergoing no alteration. There was little or no wind during the night, 
and the sky was clear, excepting some clouds which hung about the moon. At a quarter past 
four the next morning, there was another shock, which lasted somewhat less than a minute, 
and was hardly so strong as that of the preceding night. 

The night of the 26th was rainy and cloudy, and at nine o'clock there was a slight shock of 
a few seconds : the motion this time appeared to be very deep, and was rather undulating than 
tremulous. The weather on the 27th was cloudy and rainy. From the. midnight of the 25th, 
besides the shocks which have been mentioned, four or five slight shocks were felt ; but 
Dr. Russell himself was not sensible of any till the morning of the 28th, when a short pulsatory 
shock was experienced. The same day at two o'clock there was a rather smart shock, lasting 
about forty seconds. From this time the Doctor was not sensible of any further shocks, though 
there were those who felt or imagined several slight vibrations every day. 

It appears that the people of Aleppo were more frightened than hurt by these earthquakes. 
The buildings sustained little damage, and no one was killed. Other places suffered more 
severely. Antioch had many of its buildings overthrown, and some of its people killed. And 
from advices afterwards received, it appeared that the earthquake of the 25th had been par- 
ticularly ruinous. One-third of Damascus was overthrown; and of the people unknown 
thousands perished in the ruins. The greater part of the survivors fled to the fields, where 
they remained, alarmed by the slightest shocks, and deterred by them from re-entering the 
city to attempt the relief of such persons as might yet be saved by clearing away the rubbish. 

Tripoli suffered more than Aleppo. Three minars and many houses were thrown down, 
while the walls of many more were rent. The resident Franks and many of the natives took 
refuge in the open fields. At Sidon great part of the Franks' khan was overthrown, and some 
of the Europeans narrowly escaped with their lives. Acre and Ladikiah suffered little besides 
rents in some of the walls ; but Safet, " the city set on a hill," was totally destroyed, and 
the greater part of the inhabitants perished. 

There were several slight shocks in December and even in January, but none requiring 
particular notice. In one of his communications, dated the 7th December, Dr. Russell 
observes that the weather had for ten days been gloomy and rainy ; a change which the people 
were willing to regard as favourable. At that time it often lightened at night, and thunder 
was heard in the distance. 1 

a We have recorded these meteorological intimations, as some may be disposed to lay stress upon them ; but that the state of 
the atmosphere can have anything to do with earthquakes or volcanoes appears very doubtful. 


Syria was visited by a most terrible earthquake in the year 1822. On the 13th of August, 
about nine o'clock in the evening, Aleppo, the third city of the Ottoman empire, and one of 
the most beautiful, whose buildings were entirely of stone, and some of which deserved the 
name of palaces, was, in one instant, overthrown to its foundations, and thousands of its inha- 
bitants buried in the ruins. a Antioch, Latakia, and many other towns and villages in the 
pashalic of Aleppo, were also destroyed. Very affecting accounts of this calamity were given 
at the time by Mr. John Barker, the British consul in Syria, and by his brother, Mr. Benjamin 
Barker, the agent of the Bible Society, — the former writing from the ruins of Antioch, and 
the latter from those of Aleppo. But as their accounts furnish little of such information as 
we seek, and as the effects of this convulsion appear to have been scarcely felt in Palestine, 
we shall pass on to the recent and very terrible visitation which brought in the new year of 

Accounts of this earthquake have been furnished by Mr. Moore, the. consul-general at 
Beirout ; by the Rev. Mr. Thompson, an American missionary ; and by Mr. Caiman, a Jew 
converted to Christianity and employed on a mission to the Jews in Palestine. These two 
gentlemen being then at Beirout, immediately entered the Holy Land with the British agent 
at Sidon, and visited the neighbourhood of the Lake of Tiberias, where the devastation had 
been greatest, with the view of offering all the assistance in their power to the sufferers. They, 
therefore, had advantages in giving an account of an earthquake in Palestine not possessed by 
any one (except William of Tyre) who have given particulars of other earthquakes in that 
country. The following paragraphs are, therefore, drawn chiefly from the account furnished 
by Mr. Calman, b with the addition of a few particulars from the narratives of Mr. Moore and 
Mr. Thompson. 

Palestine, and, in particular, the neighbourhood of the Lake of Tiberias, appears to have 
been the very centre of this mighty concussion, which was felt even to the mountains of Sinai. 
Indeed, Mr. Moore states that it had been ascertained that the earthquake was felt in a line of 
500 miles in length by 90 in breadth. The violence of the shock, however, spent itself about 
half way between Beirout and Jerusalem ; or, in other words, the marks of devastation in- 
creased as the traveller approached the districts of Safet and Tiberias, and decreased in 
receding from them — Upper Galilee* being the principal scene of ruin. 

The travellers, who proceeded to visit the scene of desolation from Beirout, found that the 
farther they advanced to the S.E., to a certain point, the more violent the shock had been, 
and the more terrible its effects. In nearly all the places which they passed, where the earth- 
quake was felt, nothing had been left behind but destruction, desolation, and human suffering. 
They omit details till they come to Gish, a once well-built village, situated upon a high 
mountain, two hours to the N.W. of Safet, which was found to be so thoroughly destroyed 
and overthrown, that not a house — not even a single stone — had been permitted to keep its 
place. Of 250 inhabitants, all, save 15, had perished. 

The substantial information which Mr. Caiman gives concerning this earthquake is com- 
prised within a few pages at the latter end of his publication, and which we cannot do better 
than transcribe almost entire. 

" Safet, as I have above described, stood on the steep declivity of a mountain ; and though 
the houses were two stories high, the roofs of the lower streets formed part of the roadway for 
the inhabitants of the upper. There were no fewer than twenty such streets, and, when the 
earthquake brought down the buildings, the lower streets received, of course, the rubbish of 
those above; and the lower the streets were, the greater the quantity of rubbish they received. 
There were, therefore, some streets and houses where the accumulation of rubbish was enor- 
mous, and the depth from the lower apartments to the top of the ruins quite incredible, so 
that no voice could have penetrated half its thickness. These circumstances are necessary to 
render intelligible the narrative to which I have referred 

a Accounts, as usual, vary: the most common one states that upwards of two-thirds of the city were entirely destroyed, and that 
from 25,000 to 30,000 was the number of those who perished. 

b ' Description of Part of the Scene of the late great Earthquake in Syria. In a Letter from E. S. Caiman, Beirout. 1837.' The 
account given by his companion, Mr. Thompson, was published iu the American periodicals, and we have, as yet, only seen ex- 
tracts from it. 

c Caiman, i. 3. 

n 2 


" The recurrence of the earthquake, which has heen a daily visitor since the first shock, and 
sometimes very violent, is a great addition to the misery of the people. One of the shocks, on 
Wednesday afternoon, the 18th, was so violent at Safet, that many parts of the ruins which 
had stood were shaken down. The rattling noise of the stones, and the cries of those who 
were digging in search of their friends, brought renewed consternation to every heart ; and 
the dust raised by the new overthrow, led those who were higher up to believe that smoke 
was issuing from the ground, and that fire would finally follow, and consume them and their 
tents. A similar shock had taken place on the previous Monday evening. These frightful 
visitations are not confined to the two cities above spoken of. Throughout the adjacent 
country, as far as Sidon, the inhabitants are in such apprehension of danger from the same 
source, that nearly all have abandoned their shattered houses, and fled for their lives into caves 
and holes of the rocks, or, if they can afford it, have erected booths. There was scarcely a cave 
on our way from Safet to Tabereah (Tiberias) in which there were not people ; which reminded 
me of Lot, on his flight from Sodom, choosing a cave for his abode (Gen. xix. 30). To the 
same cause, of frequent earthquakes destroying the cities and houses, may, perhaps, be ascribed 
the habits from which the Horites, or dwellers in caverns in Mount Seir, derived their name 
(Gen. xiv. 6). A great part of the city of Tyre having been entirely destroyed, and the re- 
maining houses so injured as to be unsafe, its inhabitants, without exception, have withdrawn 
from their houses, and now live on the beach, some in tents, and some in their large boats, 
which they have drawn on shore, and covered with canvass, where they now possess something 
like tranquillity of mind. The inmates of the latter seem rather as if in expectation of another 
flood, than of another earthquake. 

" The neighbourhood of Gish, Safet, and Tabereah, bears other marks of the violence of 
the shock, besides the complete overthrow of those places, in the rents, of various dimensions, 
traversing the rocks. Not five minutes N.E. of Gish, on the same declivity, there is a rent in 
the solid rock upwards of sixty feet in length, from a foot to a foot and a half in breadth, and 
whose depth has not been sounded. Close to the latter two places, fissures in the rocks, in 
winding directions, stretching as far as the eye could reach, but not so wide as the one just 
mentioned, every now and then surprised us on our journey. In some places, even isolated 
rocks were rent. The people of Safet and Tabereah told us, that the motion of the earthquake 
there was felt to be perpendicular, not horizontal ; so that it shook every stone from the 
foundation out of its place. They say the shock was attended with great noise. 

" On the north side of Tabereah, numberless hot-springs burst out during the earthquake, 
and continued for a short time discharging torrents of hot mineral water, which made the lake 
swell to a most unusual height. Beyond Jordan, in the district of Bashan, volleys of fire were 
shot out of the ground to such an height, that those who saw it in its descent were led to 

believe that it came down from heaven. Mr. , at Jerusalem, who had a very narrow 

escape from the tumbling stones of the walls of his apartment, immediately on making his 
escape saw something like a long, brilliant star running from N. to S., probably the some vol- 
canic fire seen by the people beyond Jordan 

" There is something not a little surprising in the irregular course pursued by the earth- 
quake. Of villages and buildings within gun-shot of each other, one has been destroyed from 
the foundations, and at the other it has been scarcely felt, and no injury sustained. Gish was 
completely destroyed ; while a village close to it was not at all injured, nor did its inhabitants 
feel the shock. While the city walls and towers of Tabereah could not withstand it, the 
mineral baths, about one mile to the south, and which, especially the new one, are compara- 
tively slight buildings, suffered no injury. Lubia, Sedtsherah, and Ramma, villages situated 
near each other, about two hours N.W. of Tabereah, were all completely overthrown; while 
at Cana of Galilee, only half an hour distant from some of these, the motion was not felt. 
Again, another village called Renna, about half-way between Cana and Nazareth, being within 
half an hour of either place, was utterly destroyed ; while Nazareth itself suffered compara- 
tively little. 

" It has been sought to explain the phenomenon by the supposition, that the places not 
affected by the shock stand upon strata already detached, by some former convulsion, from 

Chap. IV.] 



the main strata ; and that the places situated on the latter have given way to the impetuosity 
of the shock." 

It appears that the Lake of Tiberias experienced a violent concussion during the whole time 
the earthquake lasted ; and that its waters rose, and swept away many of the inhabitants of 
Tabereah. On this, as on other occasions, Jerusalem escaped with comparative impunity, and 
was but slightly affected ; but Mr. Caiman mentions that the minars on the Mount of Olives 
were shaken down by the earthquake. 

Authentic accounts of all the places in Palestine destroyed or injured by the earthquake of 
1837 would be of much value for topographical purposes. We have three lists before us; 
those of Mr. Moore, Mr. Caiman, and Mr. Waghorn. The two first do not differ materially ; 
and as that of the British agent is more extensive and more official, we shall give it the prefer- 
ence, but shall consider it right to draw a few obvious corrections, and to fill a few blanks, from 
the list of Mr. Caiman. It is proper, however, to introduce the list, thus formed, by the remark 
of this gentleman's editor, which is applicable to all statistical documents of similar origin : — 
'' The enumeration of killed and wounded is given faithfully by Mr. Caiman, beyond doubt ; 
and he would weigh the testimony offered to him. Still, it is the testimony of Orientals, 
accustomed to reckon laxly and in round numbers ; and must be considered as, at best, an 
A List of Towns, &c, destroyed or injured in Syria by the Earthquake on the 1st of Jan., 1837. 


Names of Villages. 

Number of Houses 

Number of Persons Killed. 


El Gazi .... 




Castle of Bilad Skiff 

600 head of goats 

The whole Tillage 




Aklin el Tiffa / 

El Salha .... 
Benthel Gebhel . . 





A part 


El Miliah .... 

The whole village 





Hasseun .... 



Ain Nebli .... 

The whole Tillage 



One-third .... 





Eble Sakah . . . 

The whole village . 


El Matel .... 




Shara . ( 



ElHeam .... 





El Hurba .... 




All the inhabitants. 






El Raschamar . . 



Mevigaoun . < 

Lubia t . 







Ram ash .... 




Damascus .... 

4 minarets and some 

7 or 8 killed and 




Fortifications . . 


Houses greatly inj ured 



Destroyed .... 

5025 killed,* 405 


Slightly injured . . 


Nazareth .... 



Tiberias .... 

Entirely destroyed . 

775 killed b 65 

4000 Jews, 25 Christians, 1000 Mohammedans.— Caiman. 

b 500 Tews, 25 Christians, 250 Mohammedans.— Caiman. 


The following villages, also in the district of Shara, were entirely destroyed, but the number 
of the inhabitants who perished is unknown ; — Asban, Asbaga, El Atrech, El Shaley ; and the 
following in the district of Mevigaoun — Topte, El Maga, Giatoun, Darel Hata, El Suma, 
Sulti, Nadris, Usable, Alme Decta, Mogar, Akin, Atbar, Mahrun, Bira, Darel Wafa, El 
Maydel. Some of the names in this list appear to be mis-spelled • and we have only been able 
to find the means of correcting a few of them to our own satisfaction. 

Considering by how many such convulsions as these this land has been desolated, causing 
the utter extinction of numerous towns and villages, no one can wonder at the difficulty which 
is felt in ascertaining the old sites mentioned in the Scriptures ; but surprise may rather be 
experienced at the very considerable number which have been identified. 

It is not strictly within our object to dwell upon the human suffering which this calamity 
produced, and which such visitations have, doubtless, in all ages, occasioned in the same 
country, otherwise we could occupy many pages with accounts of the few survivors of this 
dreadful overthrow, appearing like men whom consternation had divested of sound reason, 
brooding over the ruins of their habitations, and bemoaning the relatives who still lay buried 
beneath the ruins : — of those at Safet, with ghastly countenances and tattered clothes, scattered 
over the four sides of their mountain, destitute of raiment and shelter to screen them from the 
keen mid- winter air of the mountains, and seeming as if they only survived to pine away more 
slowly and sufferingly than those whom the earthquake had overwhelmed ; — of faithful dogs 
trying, with indefatigable perseverance, to remove the heaps of stones which hid their owners 
from their sight, and breaking forth, every now and then, into the most mournful bowlings, 
when they found that the efforts of their weak paws were spent in vain ; — of the dreadful state 
of many who were wounded, their poor bodies crushed, broken, torn, in every possible way, 
beyond all hope of cure ; and of the numbers who, in this state, lay upon or about the ruins, 
with none to care for them or to provide them help or shelter ; — of those who, for the first 
three or four days, continued alive under the ruins, sending forth bitter cries and lamentations, 
and vain entreaties for help, the attempts to give which, in many cases, crushing them to death 
by the displacement of the stones and beams which had given them protection ; — of those who, 
after many days, were brought forth barely alive, and who opened their eyes once more upon 
the light of day, and by that light viewing their few surviving friends and their ruined cities, 
closed them again for ever ; — of the bodies of the slain drawn out and dragged about the fields 
by greedy dogs, which, emboldened by their horrid fare, became at last dangerous to the 
living ; — or, finally, of the wild inhabitants of the desert hastening gleefully — like vultures to 
the scent of blood — to reap the harvests for which they did not labour, and to gather the 
treasures which they never deposited, digging among the ruins, and bearing joyously to their 
tents and caverns the wealth of the living and the dead. a 

e Caiman, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 15, 18, 27- 

Chap. IV.] 




C) Hot Baths of Tiberias, p. lxxv. — This, 
from HasseJquist, is a moderate estimate of the 
heat, as compared with that which the old 
travellers give. Morison, for instance, says, 
with some simplicity, — " La source ... est si 
baiiillante, qu'il ne me fut pas possible d'en 
somTrir pendant quelques momens l'incroiable 
chaleur. J'essaiai plusieurs fois d'y tenir le bout 
du doigt pendant le terns necessaire pour pro- 
noncer fort vite ce peu de paroles Gloria Patri 
et Filio, mais je ne pu pas y reiissir ; et je crois 
qu' une eau qui auroit boiiilli sur un grand feu 
pendant une heure entiere, n'auroit rien de 
plus insuportable." (Voyage, p. 205.) He was 
evidently not aware that water gains no in- 
crease of heat by prolonged boiling. Dr. 
Richardson, having no thermometer, could not 
ascertain the temperature of the spring ; but 
it was so hot that the hand could not endure it. 
The water must remain many hours in the 
cistern of the bath (as Morison says was the 
case in his time) before it can be used, and 
even after this the Doctor thinks its tem- 
perature not below 100°. Buckingham did 
apply a thermometer to the water at its issue, 
when the mercury rose instantly to 130°, which 
was its utmost limit ; but the heat of the water 
was certainly greater. Morison says that, on 
bathing in the lake, he found its water (which 
is naturally very cold) quite warm, at the 
distance of twelve paces from the water's edge, 
and twenty-five or thirty from the source, by 
reason of the water allowed to escape from the 
hot-spring. He agrees with later travellers 
in describing the taste as a mixed one of salt, 
sulphur, bitumen, and iron. Pococke bottled 
some of the water, and brought it home, when 
it was found to hold in solution a considerable 
quantity of " gross fixed vitriol, some alum, 
and a mineral salt." The extreme saltness of 
the water communicates a brackish taste to 
that of the lake near it. 

This spring has been, from ancient times, 
celebrated for the medicinal properties of its 
waters ; whence it has been a place of much 
resort, from all parts of Syria, in rheumatic 
complaints, and cases of early debility. For 
the accommodation of the visitors, suitable 
baths appear to have been erected, which are 
at present supplied by a small and mean build- 
ing, with a low dome. The interior is divided 
into two apartments, the innermost of which, 
being the bathing-room, has a cistern eight or 

nine feet square, sunk below the pavement, for 
containing the hot water. The spring rises, to 
supply the cistern, through a small head of 
some animal. The waters are also taken in- 
ternally, but not without much precaution, or 
until due care has been taken to render it 
drinkable by dilution ; for, in its natural state, 
it is not only extremely hot, but has a stronger 
mineral flavour than the stomach can endure. 
Volney informs us that the deposition of the 
spring is also used medicinally. He says, — 
" For want of clearing, it is filled with a black 
mud, which is a genuine JEthiops Martial. 
Persons attacked by rheumatic complaints find 
great relief, and are frequently cured by baths 
of this mud." a 

(*) Hot Baths at Tahhbahh, p. Ixxvi. — 
These baths do not appear to have been noticed 
or described by any traveller before Bucking- 
ham. The following is the further description 
of them which he gives : — 

" The most perfect of these baths is an open, 
octangular basin, of excellent masonry, stuc- 
coed on the inside, being one hundred and five 
paces in circumference, and about twenty-five 
feet in depth. We descended to it by a narrow 
flight of ten stone steps, which lead to a plat- 
form about twelve feet square, and elevated 
considerably above the bottom of the bath, so 
that the bathers might go from thence into 
deeper water below. This large basin is now 
nearly filled with tall reeds, growing up from 
the bottom; but its aqueduct, which is still 
perfect, and arched near the end, carries down 
a full and rapid stream to turn the mill erected 
at its further end. On the sides of this aque- 
duct are seen incrustations, similar to those 
described on the aqueduct of Tyre, leading 
from the cisterns of Solomon at Ras-el-ayn, 
and occasioned, no doubt, by the same cause. 
The whole of the work, both of the baths and 
its aqueduct, appears to be Roman ; and it is 
executed with the care and solidity which ge- 
nerally marks the architectural labours of that 
people. b 

( 3 ) " On the Destruction of the Vale of 
Siddim," p. lxxix. — As we do not contend that 

a Morison, liv. ii. ch. 5 ; Van Egmont and Heymann, ii. 33; 
Volney, ii. 193; Buckingham, ii. 340; Richardson, ii. 432; 
Robinson, ii. 224. 

' b Travels in Palestine,' ii. 340. 



[Chap. IV. 

the Dead Sea is the crater of a volcano, we 
have no particular object in showing that Cha- 
teaubriancTs arguments prove nothing in this 
matter. But although it be true that the 
greater number of known volcanoes take the 
form which he describes, it remains to be 
proved that such a form is essential to them. 
We know of no facts or arguments to show 
that a volcano may not exist in a hollow among 
mountains, and we know that such may exist as 
a chasm in a plain." The formation of a moun- 
tain crater is a work of time,— the result of a 
continued propulsion of matter through the 
same vent, whereby, in process of time, such 
conical masses are formed as the eloquent 
Frenchman describes. What he says is, there- 
fore, no more than that the effects which he 
witnessed at the Dead Sea are not such as 
result from the continued operation of volcanic 
agencies. And in this we quite agree with 
him. There is much in Scripture, and much 
in the present state of the tract of country 
which we arc describing, to render it manifest 
that it has in different parts, and probably at 
different times, been subject to volcanic dis- 
turbances ; but that any of them, however vio- 
lent, were of long continuance, the Scripture 
precludes us from supposing. 

Much of the misunderstanding in this matter 
results from the assumed necessity (evidently 
present to the mind of Chateaubriand) of find- 
ing a volcano before volcanic manifestations 
shall be recognized. This is a radical error. 
In pursuing the inquiry which the present 
chapter embraces, we have described ourselves 
as collecting volcanic indications, not as looking- 
for the site of a volcano. A district, in which 
no traces of a crater can be found, may exhibit 
manifestations of volcanic action ; such action 
having been probably sudden, brief, dispersed, 
and intermittent. To decide concerning these, 
by a reference to the appearances produced 
by the long continuance of volcanic action in 
the same place, can scarcely be considered 

Again, writers, like Chateaubriand in the 
present instance, speak of volcanoes, and so 
forth, with reference to some theoretical notions 
on the subject. Feeling that the true theory 
of volcanoes has not yet been established, we 
have abstained from any such reference ; and 
in noticing volcanic indications have intended 
no more than indications of the action of fire. 
We take this to be the simple meaning of 
the word " volcanic," apart from all theory ; 
and, as the matter involves some points of deli- 
cacy in such a work as the present, we beg that 

a As in that of Kiraunea, in the Sandwich Islands, described 
in the interesting book of the Rev. W. Ellis. 

the acceptation iii which we employ the term 
may be distinctly understood. 

The action of fire implies the presence of 
combustible materials previously to that action ; 
but how these materials ignite, how combustion 
is produced, is a question which still remains 
to be decided ; for although, probably, the true 
explanation has been suggested, the evidence, 
which may in the end establish it above all 
other hypotheses, has not yet been produced. 
We see nothing to disprove that the ignition 
may, under differing circumstances, be differ- 
ently produced ; and the variety of theories 
on the subject, all having some very good 
reasons in their favour, may tend to sanction 
this conclusion. 

Now, in the case of the Dead Sea, we know, 
from the best possible authority, that the site 
it occupies was once a fertile and populous 
plain. It was in those days that " Lot lifted 
up his eyes and beheld all the plain of Jordan, 
that it was well watered everywhere before the 
Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as 
the garden of the Lord, like the land of 
Egypt " (Gen. xiii. 10.) We learn immediately 
after (xiv. 3, 10) that this site was called the 
"Vale of Siddim," and that it was replete with 
combustible materials, which were partly ex- 
posed in the form of " slime-pits,"— that is of 
such sources of bitumen as still are found on 
the eastern borders of the lake, and as, from 
the products which rise to the surface, appear 
still to exist below the waters. The sacred 
history having thus apprised us of the pre- 
sence of combustible materials, soon after 
acquaints us with the occasion of their ignition. 
Provoked by the iniquities of the people who 
inhabited the plain, " The Lord rained upon 
Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire a 
from the Lord out of heaven ; and he overthrew 
those cities and all the plain, and that which 
grew upon the ground." b Abraham, who wit- 
nessed this manifestation of the Divine judg- 
ment, which he had vainly endeavoured to 
avert, " looked towards Sodom and Gomorrah, 
and toward all the land of the plain, and behold, 
and lo, the smoke of the country went up as the 
smoke of a furnace." c 

The object of the sacred account is to inform 
us that the Lord did, by his special judgment, 
overthrow the sinful cities of the plain, and not 
to explain how that overthrow was eifected. 
We are told, however, that " the Lord rained 
burning brimstone out of heaven." Some 
think that this was an ejection upon the plain 
of burning matter from a volcanic eruption in 
the neighbourhood ; others, that lightning was 

a Gen. xix. 24, 
b i. c. burning brimstone. 


c Gen. xix. 28. 

Chap. IV.] 



the agent employed in the ignition of the com- 
bustible materials which the plain afforded ; 
while many take the expression to denote the 
literal projection of fiery matters from the sky 
upon the plain. We shall not examine these 
alternatives. The special interposition of 
Divine providence in bringing down this judg- 
ment at the appointed instant, when the 
iniquities of the inhabitants had ripened them 
for destruction, would be equally apparent 
under all. But we submit that, with our pre- 
vious knowledge of the combustible character 
of the district, all the intimations which the 
sacred text affords, are indicative of volcanic 
action, produced by the fiery agency which the 
Lord in his chosen time supplied. And it may 
be well to remind the reader that this appear- 
ance of falling fire which occasions so much 
doubtful explanation and comment, is not 
singular or unexampled ; for it has been seen. 
in Mr. Caiman's accounts that a similar 
appearance attended that combination of vol- 
canic and earth-shaking agencies which pro- 
duced the terrible result of 1837- 

To those who do not balance and compare 
dispersed texts with sufficient attention, it 
might seem, at the first glance, that the de- 
struction of " all the plain " was the conse- 
quence of its inundation by the " burning 
brimstone" which the Lord rained out of 
heaven. But we must recollect that it was 
not a submersion by a " fiery deluge," but an 
" overthrow ;" and remembering the " slime- 
pits " which were exposed in the plain, we can 
see that a combustion must have ensued, which, 
by its action on subterraneous gases, would 
explode the whole plain, casting its contents 
far and wide, and ultimately causing a great 
depression of its surface. The Scriptural inti- 
mations, and all existing appearances, are in 
favour of this view. 

The plain of Siddim is described, in one of 
the texts we have cited, as part of the plain of 
the Jordan, that is, that the river flowed 
through it. It, therefore, follows that the 
plain had about the same level (gradually 
sloping southward) as the general plain of 
the Jordan, of which it was part. But now 
its bottom is very far below that level; and 
this must have been the result of a convul- 
sion and submersion of its former surface. 
Whereas, the ultimate effect of a single de- 
luge of fiery matter would have been to raise 
the surface of the plain. 

Moreover, the sacred narrative, closely ex- 
amined, indicates a suddenness of effect — an 

d Page xcii. of this chapter. 

explosion from sudden ignition — rather than 
mere submersion by the continuous down-flow 
of burningmatter. It was " early in the morn- 
ing " when the angels hastened Lot to go forth 
that he might escape the impending destruc- 
tion ; and it was still " early in the morning " 
when Abraham looked towards the plain, and 
saw its smoke ascending like the smoke of a fur- 
nace. This intimates that the catastrophe was 
then over. Had he seen the descending fire, 
that would not have taken his attention. But 
the fire had fallen— the convulsion had taken 
place ; and the details of the terrible result were 
hid from his view by the dense smoke which 
rose from the whole country of the plain as 
from a furnace. Such a convulsion must have 
been attended with a fearful noise ; and it docs 
not seem unlikely that this noise, together with 
the shaking of the earth, announced to Abra- 
ham that the Lord's purpose was accomplished, 
and led him to hasten so early in the morning 
to the place from which a view of the plain 
might be commanded. We do not see how the 
nature of this awful event could more clearly 
be defined than by the collection and com- 
parison of these dispersed intimations. 

The explanation which we have suggested is 
not different, though perhaps more compre- 
hensive, than that which Chateaubriand him- 
self is inclined to embrace as " one which 
allows the inclusion of physical circumstances 
without injury to religion." This is the notion 
of Michaelis and Busching, who hold that 
Sodom and Gomorrah were built upon a mine 
of bitumen, and that the combustible matters 
having been enkindled by lightning, the cities 
sank down in the subterraneous conflagration. 
We, of course, do not object to this explana- 
tion, which is substantially the same which we 
have given ; but we do wonder that, admitting 
so much of " la physique'" into the considera- 
tion, he should have thought it worth his while 
to contend against volcanic combustion and 
volcanic appearances ; for, as we have used and 
understand the word, the convulsion, in the 
form he allows it to have taken place, would 
have been volcanic, and the resulting appear- 
ances, which we might at this day expect to 
find in the neighbourhood, would be such as 
amply to justify, if not to require, its being 
described as a volcanic region. 3 

a Inileed the Neptuniaus would hold the event to have been 
volcanic in the strictest scientific seuse of the word ; for they 
hold that volcanoes are owing to the inflammation of beds of 
coal or other combustible matter, and regard them as local or 
of very limited range. We point out the conformity, without 
wishing to delare our adherence to the Neptunian or any other 
geological theory. Our present inquiry does not need any 
theoretical elucidation. 

VOL. I. 



[Chap. IV. 

The other volcanic appearances ahout the 
Lake of Tiberias and in the Eastern country 
are not accounted for or noticed in the sacred 
books. It is very possible that the combxistion 
which turned the fertile plain of Siddim into 
an asphaltic lake was subterraneously propa- 
gated, and burst forth in other and distant 
places ; and that they were all thus connected 
with the same great event which the sacred 
history records. But they may have been pro- 
duced, independently, at an earlier or later 
date ; and, if so, we should not expect them to 
be noticed in Scripture unless they were con- 
nected with some extraordinary exhibition of 
Divine power, and intended for the punish- 
ment of a guilty people. Its silence would 
imply that they were not. It is, however, 
possible that such events may be alluded to 
by the prophets ; although, from the want of 
historical information on the subject, we may 
be unable to fix this precise meaning to the 
texts in which such allusions occur. 

( 4 ) Szaffa, p. lxxxiii. — It may be well to in- 
troduce here the whole of the information 
which we at present possess concerning this 
district. — " The Szaffa is a stony district, much 
resembling the Ledja, with this difference, that 
the rocks with which it is covered are consi- 
derably larger, although the whole may be said 
to be even ground. It is two or three days in 
circumference, and is the place of refuge of 
the Arabs who fly from the pasha's troops or 
from the enemies in the desert. The Szaffa 
has no springs : the rain water is collected in 
cisterns. The only entrance is through a nar- 
row pass, called Bab el Szaffa, a cleft between 
high perpendicular rocks, which none ever 
dared to enter as an enemy. On its western 
side this district is El Harra, a term applied 
by the Arabs to all tracts which are covered 
with small stones ; being derived from Harr, 
i. e. heat (reflected from the ground). 

■ Burckhardt's Syria, p. 92, note. 



[Plain of Jericho.] 

It has already been shown that the general direction of the great mountain-chains of Syria is 
from north to south, that being the direction in which the country is most extended. It there- 
fore follows that the great principal valleys, or basins, which separate or run parallel to these 
mountains, take the same direction. The lateral valleys, which separate the arms or branches 
of the mountain-chains, and through which their waters pass into the parallel basins, for the 
most part make a great angle — generally a right angle — with them, and, consequently, have a 
general direction from east to west, or from west to east. 

We have written of the great mountain-chain of Lebanon, and have described its southward 
prolongation as extending through and dividing the length of Palestine, the backbone of which, 
so to speak, it forms. Now, the parallel valley or basin of this great central chain, on the 
west, to which all the lateral valleys and all the streams of its western slope tend, is formed by 
the low lands on the coast facing the Mediterranean. But the great parallel valley on the east 
is formed, first, by the Bekka or valley between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ; then by the 
bed of the river Jordan and its lakes ; and, lastly, by the great valley of Araba, which extends 
from the Dead Sea to the Elanitic Gulf. In this great and extensive basin all the valleys 
which separate the eastern branches of the great central chain terminate, and through them it 
receives all the waters which fall from its eastern slopes. This valley is the eastern frontier 

o 2 


of Palestine Proper; but, taking into account the country beyond it eastward, which we include 
in our survey, it becomes a central basin, towards which are directed, westward, the valleys 
and streams of the eastern mountains and high plains. This is, therefore, of more importance, 
geographically, than even the other principal valley — if it be right to call it a valley — which 
stretches along the coast ; seeing that the lateral valleys of two principal chains are directed 
towards it, whereas the valleys and streams of only one slope tend towards the coast. 

This being the system of the valleys of Palestine, the obvious course before us is, first to 
trace the characteristics of the coast from the north to the south, and then those of the great 
central valley ; after which we shall be in condition to attend to such of the lateral or subsi- 
diary valleys as require especial notice : and may then conclude with a notice of the plains 
and deserts of the east and south. 

The extent of the line of coast which we shall now follow is from Antaradus (Tartous) 
to the southernmost border of Palestine ; reaching, therefore, through about four degrees of 
latitude (31° to 35 c ). 

Viewed generally, the tract of country through this extent, varies considerably in its breadth 
between the margin of the sea and the lower undulations of the central mountains. In some 
parts it expands into wide plains, in others it is contracted into narrow valleys, and there are 
places where the mountain-branches sent forth westward, break the continuity of the plain, and 
stretch forth even into the sea, forming the promontories along the coast. On the other hand, 
the plain is in some parts indented by bays, which are, however, broad rather than deep, and 
which nowhere occur to the south of the promontory of Carmel. Most of the smaller indenta- 
tions of the coast appear to have been worn by the action of the streams where they discharge 
themselves into the sea. 

Throughout this extent the soil, with the exception of some sandy tracts, is surpassingly 
productive. It is, for the most part, as in most of the fertile parts of Syria, composed of a 
rich brown garden-mould ; although in its northern part there are indications of that red soil 
which prevails in the extreme north and north-eastern parts of Syria. The climate all along 
the coast is very warm, and rather insalubrious as compared with the more elevated parts of 
the country. a 

After this general statement we may take our journey along the coast, noting such parti- 
culars as seem to deserve attention. Our first stage shall be from Tartous to Tripoli, thirty- 
five miles, through the country of the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Arkites ; and Maun- 
drell, Shaw, and Burckhardt shall be our guides. 

On the land-side, a spacious and pleasant plain extends around Tartous. Travelling from 
thence, we soon cross the river Marathus, and without stopping to examine the curious anti- 
quities near the Serpent's Fountain, proceed five miles further, where our attention is arrested 
by some very ancient and very remarkable sepulchral constructions, in the shape of conical 
pillars, which might bring to mind " the pillar of Rachel's grave " more markedly than the 
domed structure which now forms her monument. b Shaw says, " the situation of the country 
round about them has something in it so extravagant and so peculiar to itself, that it can never 
fail to contribute an agreeable mixture of melancholy and delight to all who pass through it. 
The uncommon contrast and disposition of woods and sepulchres, rocks and grottoes ; the 
medley of sounds and echoes from birds and beasts, cascades and waterfalls ; the distant roaring 
of the sea, and the composed solemnity of the whole place, very naturally remind us of those 
beautiful descriptions which the ancient poets have left us of the groves and retreats of their 
rural deities." 

A little to the south of this spot commences a great plain, to which the people of the country 
give the name of Jeune, or the Plain, by way of eminency, on account of its great extent. Its 
length almost reaches to the Cold River, d while its breadth between the sea and the mountains 
varies from five to seven leagues. All over this plain are dispersed a great number of castles 
and watch-towers, erected perhaps as well for the safety and security of those who cultivated 

H Taylor et Eaybaud, ' La Syne,' 188, 190. b See the cut, p. 103. 

c Maundvell, 20, 21 ; Shaw, ii. 16, 21, 22. a Nahar el Bered. 


it, as to observe the motions of whatever enemy should at any time pitch on it for a seat of 
action. Such towers are of frequent occurrence in other parts of Syria, and may be the same 
with the " watch-towers," in contradistinction to the " fenced cities," as they are mentioned 
in the Scriptures. A representation of one of them has already been given in this work. a 
Besides these towers, the Jeune offers several large hillocks of the same figure, and probably 
raised upon the same occasion with those eminences which we call burrows in England. Such 
monuments occur most frequently on battle-fields ; and, certainly, no place can be better 
supplied with water and herbage, and, consequently, more proper either for a field of battle or 
where an army could be more conveniently encamped. Three rivers b pass through this plain, 
crossed by bridges of stone. c 

The Nahar el Bered may be taken as the boundary of this plain southward. Here the 
eastern mountains, which had been gradually approaching the shore, begin to run parallel to 
it, at the average distance of a mile ; but sometimes stretching out into the sea in small pro- 
montories. This is the first near approach of the Lebanon mountains to the shore, by which 
a remarkable alteration is made in the aspect and disposition of the whole country. The town 
of Tripoli, d situated upon the declivity of a hill facing the sea, lies about six miles to the south 
of this river ; and thus our first stage is completed." 5 

Our next shall be from Tripoli to Beirout, fifty-eight miles. f Through all this extent, the 
coast appears to be formed of sand, accumulated by the prevailing westerly winds and 
hardened into rocks. The valley between the mountains and the sea is, in all this distance, 
very narrow. The average breadth may be one mile ; in very few places does it exceed two 
miles ; and in some parts the mountains run close along the shore, so as to leave only a road 
between them and the sea. Of the mountain-ridges which throw their extremities towards 
the sea, the first which conspicuously breaks the continuity of the vale, and forms a marked 
promontory,? is that which terminates in the Ras el Shakkah, which stretches into the sea 
more than two miles beyond the general line of the coast, and the ascent over which, through 
a deep and rugged pass, is a work of time and difficulty. In the angle of the coast beyond 
this is the small town of Batroun (the ancient Bostrys), at the foot of the hills, which for some 
miles further slope quite down to the shore. On crossing the bridge over the winter-torrent of 
Medfoun, by which we leave the Batroun district, the valley opens a little, and gradually 
widens as we approach the walled town of Jebail. h Leaving this, the plain, though still 
narrow, continues to widen slightly. In one place a pleasant grove of oaks skirts the road ; 
and in another we cross a natural bridge, worn by the waters over the bed of a winter-torrent. 
The river Adonis, so famed in classic fable, also occurs, under the name of Nahar Ibrahim, 
before we arrive at the northern promontory of the bay of Kesraoun, which again narrows and 
obstructs the vale. When this promontory has been passed, and we stand on the borders of 
the bay, the country offers a most interesting aspect. On the one hand are steep and lofty 
mountains, full of villages and convents built on their rocky sides ; and, on the other, the fine 
bay, with a plain of about a mile in breadth between it and the mountains. This plain is of 
a sandy soil, but is sown with wheat and barley, and irrigated by water drawn from wells by 
means of wheels. On approaching the southern promontory of this extensive bay, tbe country 
rises and continues hilly with slight interruption for some five miles, in the course of which 
we pass the Nahar el Kelb 1 by a stone bridge, about ten minutes' walk above its junction with 
the sea. From the bridge the road continues along the foot of the steep rocks, except where 
they overhang the sea, and there it has been cut through the rock by the Romans for about a 

a Page 103. 

b Maundrell makes them four; but he extends the plain nearly to Tripoli. The three are the Nahar el Kebir, or the Great 
River; Nahar Abrosh, or the Leper's River; and Nahar Alihar : the fourth, which Maundrell includes among the rivers of the 
plain, and Shaw does not, is the Nahar el Bered, or the Cold River. 

c Maundrell, 24 ; Shaw, 22, 23; Burckhardt, 160—163. <* Called Tarabolos by the natives. 

e Shaw, ii. 27—29. 

f Direct distances are always given ; and English statute miles are to be understood, unless geographical miles are specified. 

6 The Theo Prosopon Promontorium of the ancients. 

h The aucient Byblus. Originally this appears to have been the seat of the Giblites mentioned in Josh. xiii. 5; 1 Kings v. 18; 
Ezek. xxvii. 9. 

Dog River, the ancient Li/cus. 


mile. On clearing this pass we reach a smooth sandy shore, which soon conducts us to the 
triangular point of land, towards the western extremity of which the town of Beirout a stands. 
This point projects into the sea about four miles beyond the line of coast, and there is about 
the same distance in following that line across the base of the triangle . b 

Our next stage shall be one of forty-six miles, from Beirout to Tyre. 

Leaving the thriving and important town of Beirout, we cross the root of the tongue of land 
on which it stands, through cool and pleasant lanes, hedged on both sides with sloping walls 
of earth crowned with the prickly pear. It takes nearly an hour to clear these, and then we 
enter upon a sandy tract, occupying the south-western side and angle of this tongue of land, 
and where the sand has been blown up into low hills, between the road and the shore, by the 
prevailing westerly winds. The lower hills of Lebanon, on the east, here present a bold and 
interesting appearance, with a number of villages and detached buildings, and every sign of 
industrious cultivation. The plain below them is full of olive-trees and lighter verdure ; and 
here a fine grove of pines, planted by the famous Emir Fekhr-ed-Dein, still subsists. The 
sandy plain is continued for several miles in a gradual descent to the beach ; and on leaving 
it we enter upon a fine plain, about six miles long by four in breadth, which is or was richly 
set with gardens and orchards even to the base of the eastern hills. 

This plain terminates at the river Damoor, the ancient Tamyras. On the other side of that 
river the eastern mountains approach nearer to the shore, leaving only a narrow, rocky way 
between; and so, for the most part, it continues to the town of Seide (the ancient Sidon), the 
road now lying along the sandy beach of the sea-shore, and then over rocky paths at a little 
distance from it. The Nahar el Aoula, which supplies Seide with water, is crossed within a 
league of that town, on approaching which the valley widens and improves, so that the plain 
immediately behind it is about two miles wide, and is entirely laid out in extensive and shady 
groves and gardens with narrow lanes between them. The hills which bound the plain on the 
east are also fruitful and picturesque ; and, upon the whole, this is a very pleasing portion of 
the line under our survey. 

Continuing our journey from Sidon to Tyre, c we find the plain gradually narrows. The 
scenery for most of the way is remarkably simple. On the right hand is the sea ; on the left 
a low, modest line of mountains, the flat intervening plain varying in breadth from 150 to 300 
yards. This thinly-peopled and nearly barren tract of country offers little to excite interest, 
save the ruins — now mere heaps of rubbish — of several large towns, which bring to mind how 
populous and rich this part of the Phoenician territory once was. 

After passing the picturesque Kasmia, the plain becomes more wide ; and when we arrive at 
Tyre, which is not more than a league beyond, it has become between four and five miles wide, 
backed by hills much higher than those which bound the plain of Sidon. The country has, 
however, here an air of wildness and desolation ; the soil, though not naturally bad, is much 
injured by negligent tillage, and the total absence of pasture and woodland leaves the surface 
in all its naked deformity . d 

Our next stage along the coast shall be a short one of thirty-six miles, e from Tyre to Mount 

From the base of the isthmus of Tyre, the southward road traverses part of a fertile plain 
of considerable extent, and in three-quarters of an hour brings us to the beautiful stream and 
meadows of Ras el Ain, at which spot most travellers pause to examine the cisterns, which the 
natives, without the least probability, attribute to Solomon, as they do every remarkable work of 
which they know not the origin. The best descriptions of them are those supplied by Morison, 
Nau, and Maundrell. From this place the pure waters were conducted to Tyre by a noble 

a The aucient Berytus. We shall have future occasions of noticing this and most of the other towns we have named. 

h The above account of the coast between Tripoli and Beirout is collected from D'Arvieux, Maundrell, Pococke, Burckhardt, 
and Irby and Mangles. 

c Now Soor, which is just the same as the ancieut Hebrew name of Tyre. 

d The authorities for the above account of the coast from Beirout to Tyre are:— D'Arvieux, ii. c. 22; Maundrell, 43 — 48; 
Pococke, part i. c. 20 ; Buckingham, ' Arab Tribes,' c. 21 ; Irl>y and Mangles, 194—202 ; Joliffe, ' Letters from Palestine,' 5—15; 
Jowett, ' Syria and the Holy Land,' 124 — 131. 

e The road distance is, however, much greater in this instance. 


aqueduct,which still exists as a venerable ruin. The eastern mountains are here about a league 
distant from the shore. This plain continues somewhat narrowing its breadth as we approach 
the White Cape, a a sublime and picturesque mountain, composed of a calcareous stone as white 
as chalk. The road over it is occasionally cut through the rock along its side, and is about two 
yards broad. On the right of this road the rock is covered with bushes, while the left offers a 
perpendicular precipice to the sea, the scene from which, when the sea rages, is tremendous. 
This pass is about a mile and a half in length, and has been compared to some of the roads in 
North Wales. It is perfectly safe, being walled in where necessary. The traditions of the 
country ascribe this road to Alexander the Great. Having crossed this promontory, we pass 
for about two hours over a rocky district, and then arrive at the steep and rugged promontory 
which forms the Cape of Nakhoora, over which the road passes. The ascent of this road, wind- 
ing over the rugged front of this promontory, reminded Mr. Buckingham very forcibly of 
similar scenes in Spanish mountains, as well as on the western shores of Portugal : and, here 
and there, striking resemblances were found to the rocky and sea-beaten shores of Cornwall 
and Devonshire. On reaching the summit of this promontory, an extensive and beautiful 
view across the whole plain of Acre opens on us. The elegant and lofty minaret of the city 
appears at the distance of seven or eight miles directly before us ; in the back-ground, far 
off, twice as distant as the city, is a noble scene ; — Mount Carmel dipping its feet in the 
Western Sea, and, to the east, running considerably inland, entirely locking up from our view 
the plain of Sharon, which, we know, lies beyond it on the south. In the horizon, on the left, 
the eye rests on the milder mountain scenery which lies on the road to Nazareth. This plain, 
from the boundaries thus given, is about fifteen miles in length from north to south, and about 
five in general breadth from the sea-shore to the hills which border it on the east. The soil of 
this plain resembles the dark loam of Egypt. It is naturally rich, and, in the season, offers a 
most exuberant natural cultivation, but it is now almost entirely uncultivated. Over an extent 
of several miles we may perhaps see a solitary Arab turning up what, on the great plain, ap- 
peared to be only a few yards of ground. This is natural, for since, from the extortions of the 
government, the cultivator cannot enjoy the fruits of his own labour, hundreds choose rather to 
drag out a half-starved existence within the walls of Acre than to cultivate the rich plain which 
lies open to any one who might desire to till it. We stop not at the towns of Zib b or Acre, 
which are situated close to the shore, nor do we pause to drink from the " Fountain of the 
Blessed Virgin," but, crossing the rivers Belus c and Kishon, arrive at the termination of the 
plain under Carmel . d 

Our fifth stage shall reach from Mount Carmel to Joppa, fifty-six miles. 

It will be remembered that the Mount Carmel is formed by a range of hills coming from the 
plain of Esdraelon, and ending in the promontory or cape which forms the Bay of Acre. The 
road, at least that usually taken, winds round the foot of this promontory, and, after having turned 
its point, we continue our way southward along the sea-coast. The plain here, between the foot 
of Carmel and the sea, is covered with brushwood, much frequented by various wild animals, 
particularly boars. In less than a league we reach a cultivated plain, and, after crossing that, 
pass behind a long range of low sandhills, which show rocky fragments in several parts. These 
shut out the view of the sea from the road ; but it is practicable to travel on the other side of 
them, along the shore. But, if we journey behind them, we ultimately turn out to the shore 
through a pass cut in these hills through the bed of rock. This pass is called Waad-el-Ajal, 
the Vale of Death." It is short, and appears to have been once closed by a gate. It is just 

* Called Ras el Abaid by the natives, classically Album Promontorium, and by Europeans Capo Bianco. 

b Achzib of the Bible ; classically Ecdippa. 

c Now Kardanah. 

d The authorities consulted for this account of the country between Tyre and Mount Carmel are : — Morison, liv. ii. c. 35; Nau, 
liv. iii. c. 23; Maundrell, 50—54; Brown, 370, 371; Buckingham, 'Palestine,' c. iii.; Irby and Mangles, 194—198; Jowett, 
' Syria and the Holy Land,' 142—144; Stephens, ii. 342,353. 

e This may bring to mind the " valley of the shadow of death" of David. Such names are not uncommonly given to gloomy or 
dangerous vales. 


broad enough, for the passage of a wheeled carriage or a laden camel, with causeways on each 
side, hewn down on the rock, for foot-passengers. The length of this pass may be about a 
hundred yards. Beyond it a narrow, sandy flat extends to the sea. Now, turning southward 
again, along the western side of the bed of rock through which this pass has been cut, nume- 
rous square chambers are seen hewn in the stone. These chambers are small and low, with 
benches of stone and sometimes concave recesses inside, and cisterns for water near. In par- 
ticular parts, little flights of steps are provided, leading from one of these caverns to another. 
These were doubtless intended for habitations ; and, as they bear marks of high antiquity, it is 
not impossible that, as Mr. Buckingham conjectures, they may be counted among those 
" strongholds near the sea," from which the Hebrews were unable to dislodge the 

We travel for two hours along these hills and then leave them through a wide pass, and 
enter on a wide plain, which we traverse, passing by the small village of Tortura, a until we 
reach the ruins of Csesarea, the capital of the Herods, so often mentioned in the history of the 
New Testament. The whole plain is, in this part, a sandy desert now ; and no human being 
lives within many miles of the once rich and busy city. Leaving this spot for the present, 
we continue our way along the shore, chiefly on a sandy beach, with here and there beds of 
rock towards the sea. Mr. Monro travelled along this beach for two hours, and then, turning 
up into the plain, found that he had entered the celebrated plain which he describes as " the 
rich pasture-land of the Valley of Sharon, clothed with fresh verdure as far as the eye 
can reach. The white clover springs spontaneously, and among a variety of shrubs and 
flowers were a few dwarf tulips. I observed nothing bearing the appearance of what we call 
a rose, and unless ' the rose of Sharon ' is the Cistus roseus of Linnaeus, which grows abun- 
dantly, I know not what it may be. This tract of land, glorious as it is to the eye, is yet 
deficient of water in its central part, and for this reason appears not to be frequented even by 
the Arabs : I traversed it for hours without noticing a single tent. b The grass and the flowers 
spring to waste their sweetness and to fall unseen ; and the storks, striding to and fro, are the 
only animals by which they are visited. The soil is light and the surface elastic ; and the 
uneven foreground swells into hills to the east, which are backed by the mountains of Samaria 
beyond." This was in spring. To Buckingham, who passed this tract in the depth of winter, 
it appeared a desert. 

In proceeding southward over the plains, which formed, with this, the land of Sharon, 
various interesting changes are exhibited to our view. As we advance, the pasture-land 
becomes bordered by a sandy tract, which extends a considerable distance into the grass- 
land, above which it is elevated about thirteen feet in some places. It has the appearance 
of an almost perpendicular embankment, to the very foot of which the grass grows lux- 
uriantly. A considerable number of low shrubs grow upon the sand. To this succeeds a 
cultivated plain, passing from which, by crossing a valley which runs eastward, we reach 
another more extensive and beautiful plain, covered with trees and with a carpet of 
richer verdure than is often seen in Palestine. In this wooded country was situated the 
town of Sharon, which appears to have given its name to the fine plains which we are 
describing, and which extend from Caesarea to Joppa, and from the shore to the hills of 
Samaria. From this central place, far around, the plains are more extensive, more beautiful, 
and, to all appearance, more fertile than those of Acre, of Zebulon, and of Carmel. But it 
should be noted that, as for some time after leaving Caesarea, so for some time before 
approaching Jaffa, c the plains are more bare and desert than in the intervening districts. The 
wooded country which we have mentioned is succeeded by pasture-grounds, such as have 
been already noticed : but about eleven miles before we reach Jaffa the hills stretch out 
towards the coast ; and a narrow pass through them conducts to an elevated plain, a consider- 

a Probably the scriptural Dor, the Dora of Josephus. 

b A mere accident ; the tract is frequented by Bedouins, though none happened to be there at the time. 

» Or, more properly, Yaffa ; which is just the old Hebrew name. This is the Joppa of the New Testament. 


able part of which is under cultivation. From this the road descends to the beach, and pro- 
ceeds under brown cliffs and hills till, finally, we pass over a desert soil to reach the gates 
of Jaffa.* 

The whole distance between Jaffa and El Arish, on " the river of Egypt," may be 
despatched in one long stage, of nearly a hundred miles, through the land of the Philistines. 
In the part which lies between Jaffa and Gaza, the eastern hills approach nearer than in the 
plains of Sharon. But these hills, although connected by ramifications with the central 
mountains, have wide plains and valleys behind them, and the hilly country of Judea. 

It may also be observed that throughout and beyond this extent, though not all the way to 
El Arish, the plains between the mountains and the sea are less level than they have been, the 
surface being, for the most part, composed of low undulating hills. 

Thus, after we passed through the fine gardens of Jaffa, which extend for a considerable 
distance in the direction of our road, and which are fenced with hedges of the prickly pear, 
and abundantly furnished with pomegranate, orange, fig-trees, and water-melons, we find the 
surface of the ground beautifully undulating. The hills are rather high and partially culti- 
vated; but, upon the whole, the plantations of thistles, which abound throughout this country, 
are quite as numerous as the fields of grain. About Ashdod, eighteen miles from Joppa, the still 
undulating ground is covered with rich pastures. The description given by Sandys, which is 
still applicable, applies to the tract between Ashdod and Gaza : — " The champion betweene 
about twenty miles, full of fiowerie hills ascending leasurely, and not much surmounting their 
rancker vallies, with groves of olives and other fruites dispersedly adorned. Yet is this 
wealthy bottom (as are all the rest), for the most part, uninhabited, but onely for a few small 
and contemptible villages, possessed by barbarous Moores (Arabs), who till no more than will 
serve to feed them; the grass waist high, unmowed, uneaten, and uselessly withering." As 
he observes, the country is bare of trees; but when the growth of spring comes, the undulating 
hills, everything looks fresh and beautiful. " It is not," says Richardson, " like the land of 
Egypt, but a thousand times more interesting." Askelon is nearly midway in our route 
between these two places, and the vale in which it lies is peculiarly rich and beautiful. In 
the spring it is enamelled with flowers, among which our garden-pink assumes the place of 
daisies. On approaching Gaza, the eye, which has not lately seen much of trees, is charmed 
by the abundant sycamores and the plantations of old and large olive-trees which surround 
that interesting spot. 

Beyond Gaza the mountains are far inland, though visible in the distance ; but the undu- 
lation of the ground over which we pass continues. The country as far as Khan Younes, or 
even Rafah, b continues to present the same kind of rural scenery as before, — beautiful undu- 
lating fields covered with flocks and herds, and crops of wheat, barley, lentils, and tobacco. 
Speaking generally of the country which we have thus far traversed, Ali Bey says, " All the 
country of Palestine which I saw from Khan Younes to Jaffa is beautiful. It is composed of 
undulating hills of a rich soil, similar to that of the Nile, and is covered with the richest and 
finest vegetation. But there is not a single river in all the district ; there is not even a spring. 
All the torrents I crossed were dry, d and the inhabitants have no other water to drink than that 
which they collect in the rainy season, nor any other means of irrigation than rain-water and 
that of the wells, which indeed is very good." 

At some distance beyond Rafah the crops get thin and poor, although the general aspect of 
the country remains the same. But after we have passed the village of Sheikh Juide, three 
hours beyond Rafah, a perceptible struggle commences between the sand and the grass, or sand 
and cultivation. The sand gradually gains the superiority during the twenty or twenty-one 
miles we have still to pass before we reach El Arish, which is seated upon a hill in the midst 

a The particulars embodied in this account of the coast from Carmel to Jaffa are derived from Iiuckingham, c. vi. ; Monro, i. 
60—91; Pococke.i. 15; Nau.liv. i. c. 5 ; Morison, 544; but chiefly from the two first. Few travellers have tracked the whole 
way from Carmel to Jaffa ; but many have crossed and described the plain of Sharon. 

b Classically Ruphia. 

c The reader scarcely need be reminded that the district we are now travelling, since Jaffa, is the original Palestine, the land of 
the Philistines, which gave its name to the whole country. 

J This was about the middle of July. 

VOL. I. 1) 



[Chap. V. 

of drifting sands ; and although cultivation struggles to that point, it is discontinued beyond 
it, and from thence to the borders of the Nile we have only the naked desert of shifting sand, 
which forms a marked barrier in this direction between Palestine and Egypt. Here, therefore, 
we shall stop. a 

Thus by taking up one set of travellers where another failed, we have been enabled to give 
such an account of the whole seaward plain as will suffice for the purposes of this work. In 
now proceeding to the great interior valley, we shall not be able to realize the same advantage. 
It has been crossed by different travellers in various parts, and portions of its length have 
been traversed, but a very considerable part of its whole extent remains unexplored ; it may, 
nevertheless, be possible, by comparing and combining the observations made at different 
points, to obtain some tolerably clear notions of the whole. 

Our first attention is, of course, required by the great valley or enclosed plain, which sepa- 
rates the parallel ranges of Libanus and Anti-Libanus. This vale, extends above ninety miles 


in length, from north to south, and may average about eleven miles in breadth. Its breadth 
is unusually equal. The widest part is towards the northern extremity, and the narrowest 
towards the southern. This was the Coele-Syria or Hollow Syria of the ancients, and now 
bears the name of El Bekaah, b or " the Valley," by way of eminence. This valley, by collecting 
the waters from the mountains on either hand, is abundantly watered by rivulets ; almost 
every village has its spring, all of which descend into the valley, and either lose themselves or 
join the Liettani (the ancient Leontes), the source of which is between the towns of Zahle and 
Baalbec, about two hours from the latter place, near a hill called Tel Hushben. The soil is 

a Our guides through the land of the Philistines have been, Richardson, Mangles [these alone traversed its whole extent], 
Sandys, and Ali Bey: Zuallert, D'Arvieux, and Roger [whose account has been copied by Surius], have also been consulted; but 
the route along the coast from Jaffa, southward, was not much frequented by the older travellers. Dapper, in his " Syrie en 
Palestyn," has a very full account of the land of the Philistines (pp. 211 — 229), historical and geographical, comprising, perhaps, 
all the information which existed prior to the eighteenth century. 

b The word means a valley or low plain in Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic, and is expressly applied in the Scriptures to this very 
valley. See Josh. xi. 17 ; xii. 7; and Ezek. xxxvii. 1, 2, where the words rendered, very properly, " the valley of Lebanon," 
are literally " the Bekaah of Lebanon." The northern part, in which Baalbec is situated, is called, distinctively, Belad (district, 
province) Baalbec; but El Bekaah applies to the whole valley, although it is more frequently heard with reference to the southern 
half, which has no distinctive name. This led Burckhardt into what we conceive to be the error of supposing the name El Bekaah 
was confined to that portion, and to divide it into two parts. El Bekaah and Belad Baalbec. La Roque and Volney, who both 
resided long in Lebanon, consider the first of these names to comprehend the whole extent of the valley. 


very fertile ; and as the mountains concentrate the rays of the sun, a heat in summer is pro- 
duced scarcely inferior to that of Egypt. Such a combination of water, warmth, and a good 
soil, produces exuberant fertility everywhere in the East. It does so in the Bekaah, which is 
hence naturally, perhaps, the most rich and beautiful part of Syria. In La Roque's time the 
natural beauty and agreeableness of this vale, together with the extensive cultivation and the 
numerous villages and plantations, rendered it fully comparable to the far-renowned plain of 
Damascus. But the terrible earthquake of 1759, joined to the subsequent wars with the 
Turks, brought almost everything to ruin and neglect. But still, even so late as the beginning 
of this century, the plain and a part of the mountain to the distance of a league and a half 
around the town of Baalbec were covered with grape plantations : but the oppressions of the 
governors and their satellites have now entirely destroyed them ; and the inhabitants of that 
place, instead of eating their own grapes, which were renowned for their superior flavour, are 
obliged to import such as they need from the mountains. The southern part of the vale is 
now better cultivated than the northern ; but even there five-sixths of the soil is left in pasture 
to the Arabs. The usual produce of the harvest in the vale is ten-fold ; but in very good years 
it is often twenty-fold. Walnut-trees abound, particularly in the more northerly part of the 
vale, as do also mulberry-trees. The climate is particularly suited for vines; and the vale 
formerly and does still to some extent produce those fine and very superior raisins which were 
exported in all directions under the name of " raisins of Damascus." 

Volney says that, notwithstanding the heat of this valley, its air is not at all unhealthy? 
giving as a proof that the inhabitants sleep without injury upon their house-tops. This salu- 
brity he attributes to the fact that the waters never stagnate, and that the air is perpetually 
renewed by the north wind. But Burckhardt says, on the contrary, that the air of the valley 
is far from being healthy. " The chain of Libanus interrupts the course of the westerly winds, 
which are regular in Syria during the summer months ; and the want of these winds renders 
the climate extremely hot and oppressive." Considering the reputation of the valley, we in- 
cline to think that Volney is most probably in the right. Burckhardt was a mountaineer — 
a Swiss, — and men are apt to judge from their own impressions without reference to facts. 
A climate may be oppressively hot, and yet not unwholesome to the natives. The plain of 
Irak Arabi is far warmer than any part of Syria, and yet a healthier country would be very 
difficult to find. a 

The valley of the Jordan is, of course, the space between the hills on each side of the river 
and its lakes, without regard to the immediate bed of these waters, which will more properly 
be noticed in the chapter on Lakes and Rivers. Viewing this from above the sources of the 
Jordan to the end of the Dead Sea, the extent is not under 175 miles. The breadth varies 
much ; in some places it is very inconsiderable, and in others widens into extensive plains. 
" This valley, through its whole course, is bounded by a chain of mountains on each side. On 
the east they rise almost precipitously from the bed of the river ; but on the west there is a 
fine fertile vale, averaging about half or three-quarters of a mile broad, between the river and 
the mountain. This does not apply to the lake of Gennesareth ; for there the mountains are 
close to the lake on each side, with here and there a small beautiful vale opening on the west- 
The mountains on the east are bolder, and continue with little interruption all the way. On 
the west side the interruptions are frequent, and charming defiles, irrigated by small streams 
of water, pass off." This statement is from Dr. Richardson, who tracked more of the course 
of this valley than any other single traveller; and, in explanation of one point, it is only neces- 
sary to remind the reader of our previous statement, that the bolder eminences on the eastern 
side of the valley are, to a great extent, cliffs, behind which there are not proportional descents, 
but higher levels, than those which the western side of the valley offers. We have also had 
occasion to state that the valley itself offers the lowest level in all Syria, that level being the 
lowest of all in the southern parts. Some idea of this most extraordinary depression of the 
valley may be formed from the facts that while Jerusalem, on the western mountains, is 2600 

a This account of the great valley of Lebanon has been drawn up chieflyfrom the brief particulars afforded by La Roque, Volney, 
Burckhardt, and Elliot. Daudini has nothing of any value on the subject. 



feet, and Jerash, on the eastern plain, is 2000 feet above the level of the Mediterranean,* the 
plain of Jericho, at Rihhah, is 100 feet, and the Jordan itself, hefore it reaches the Dead Sea, 
is 1269 feet below the same level. 1 ' The consequence of this is a degree of heat in the valley 
comparable to that of the valley of the Nile ; which, with the presence of water, exhibits the 
usual effect in the most exuberant fertility, under proper treatment, with a profuse manifesta- 
tion of vegetable products which, out of the valley, can only be found in a more southern 
latitude. Here, also, the seasons are more advanced than in the more elevated tracts of country 
on either hand ; so that, upon the whole, the vale -of the Jordan may be regarded as a zone of 
almost tropical country extending through what may be called a temperate clime. 

As we consider that the valley of the Jordan may take its commencement from the angle 
formed by the divergence of Jebel Essheikh from the main chain of Anti-Libanus, we shall there 
commence the rapid survey of it we now purpose to take. 

The commencing valley thus formed seems to be called Wady Ityne, c though it also bears 
the name of its principal town, Hasbeya. This vale has a general direction N.N.E. and S.S.W., 
and varies in breadth from two to three miles. Its level is often interrupted by small hillocks, 
but it is well cultivated throughout with corn, vines, and olives, and is full of villages, peopled 
wholly by Druses and Christians in nearly equal numbers. They rear silkworms on a very 
extensive scale, and for their sake the mulberry-tree is largely cultivated. 

At the end of this valley the mountains approach each other, having only a narrow passage 
for the stream from Hasbeya. They then diverge again, and stretch wide apart, to form what 
is usually considered the commencement of the Jordan valley ; but which, geographically, had 
better be regarded as the basin and plain of the lake Houle. The plain, without the lake of 
that name, is from nine to twelve miles in breadth, by about twenty in length. This beautiful 
plain, enclosed by high mountains, and backed in one direction by the snowy heights of 
Hermon (Jebel Essheikh) is watered by the river of Hasbeya and the Jordan, as also by several 
rivulets which descend from the mountains. The soil is most fertile. It is covered every- 
where with the richest pastures, to which some Arab tribes and the Toorkmans bring their 
cattle. Only a very small part is under cultivation ; and the crops of wheat and barley here, 
as in other parts of the Jordan valley, are the finest which can anywhere be seen. Thistles 
abound here, as on the coast ; and so tall and gigantic are they as to annoy those who ride 
through the plain, as they reach to the saddles of the horses. The hills around are to a very 
considerable extent covered with oaks. d 

Beyond this plain, southward, the hills approach, or rather the western hills incline towards, 
the eastern cliffs, having a comparatively narrow valley or plain to connect the basin of Lake 
Houle with that of the Lake of Gennesareth. This is a fine undulating plain, amply covered 
with weeds and thistles ; but with a soil capable of any species of cultivation. 

The mountains open again as we draw near the great lake of Gennesareth ; but the basin 
thus formed is little more than sufficient for its waters, so that a narrow vale between their 
brink and the foot of the enclosing mountains is all the space afforded. The eastern side had 
never been, till of late years, visited by travellers ; and we were told that the vale only existed 
on the western side, and that the feet of the eastern mountains were bathed by the waters. 
But this is now known not to be the fact. 

The north-western as well as the southern shore of the lake is generally sandy ; but, passing 
down on the western side, we soon come to the plain, which reaches to the town of Tiberias, 
and which may average nearly a mile in breadth. The streams which come down from the 
mountains, and cross this plain to enter the lake, occasion a luxuriant herbage along its borders. 
The pastures of the sloping meadows which form this plain are proverbial for their richness 
among the inhabitants of the neighbouring districts. It is, indeed, exceedingly fertile, but for 
the most part uncultivated. The waste parts are covered with the rankest vegetation, — reeds, 
nebbek-trees, oleanders, honey-suckles, wildflowers, and splendid thistles in immense crops. 

R ' Geographical Journal,' 1837, T>- 456. b See p. lvii. 

c So Buckingham calls it, ' Arab Tribes,' 338. 

*1 Burckhardt, 32—42; Richardson, ii. 445—454 ; Buckingham, ' Arab Tribes,' 399—406. 


There are fig-trees, and a few palm-trees occur here and there. Approaching Tiberias, 3 we 
pass the warm mineral springs, which have already been noticed in this work ; and, in the 
vicinity of the town, we find the plain and the lower slopes of the hills under cultivation. The 
heat of the climate would allow the inhabitants to grow almost any tropical plant ; but the only 
products of their fields are wheat, barley, dhourra, tobacco, melons, grapes, and a few 
vegetables. The melons are of the finest quality, and are in great demand at Acre and 
Damascus, where the fruit is nearly a month later in ripening. The climate here, and gene- 
rally on the borders of the lake, is extremely hot, and is alleged by Burckhardt to be unhealthy, 
as the mountains impede the free course of the westerly winds, which prevail throughout Syria 
in the summer. Hence intermittent fevers, especially those of the quartan form, are very 
common at that season. Little rain falls in winter ; snow is almost unknown on the borders of 
the lake, and the temperature appears to be nearly the same as that of the Dead Sea. 

Under the altered circumstances of Syria, Lord Lyndsay was enabled to accomplish that 
examination of the eastern margin of the lake which Seetzen attempted in vain. b And, as the 
result of his survey, he tells us that, " So far from finding the road rugged or difficult, it was 
far easier than on the western bank ; in fact, by far the best we have ever travelled in Syria — 
lying entirely through meadows, covered with corn, that descended to the water's edge ; — and 
this description applies to the whole eastern side of the lake; the western is much more 
rugged and precipitous. Nothing can exceed the beauty of the lake and opposite mountains, 
at simset; the view from Tiberias is quite tame in comparison." c 

What is more usually called the Ghor, or Valley, of the Jordan, is that part which lies be- 
tween the two lakes of Gennesareth and Asphallites, the direct distance between which is about 
sixty-five miles. This beautiful plain is five or six miles across' 1 in the northern half, but widens 
greatly in its progress to the Dead Sea. It occurred to Seetzen that this plain of El Ghor 
greatly resembled that of El Bekaah (already described), save that the mountains which inclose 
the Bekaah are far more grand than those which bound the Jordan valley. The great number 
of rivulets which descend from the mountains on both sides of the Ghor, and form numerous 
pools of stagnant water, produce in many places a pleasing verdure, and a luxuriant growth of 
wild herbage and grass ; but the greater part of the ground is a parched desert, of which a 
few spots only are cultivated by the Bedouins. In the neighbourhood of Bysan (Belhshan) 
the soil is entirely of marie ; there are very few trees, but wherever there is water high reeds 
are found. The river itself flows in a valley about three quarters of a mile in breadth, which 
is considerably lower than the rest of the plain of the Ghor ; and this lower valley is covered 
with high trees and a luxuriant verdure, which afford a striking contrast with the sandy 
slopes which border it on both sides. Except for the town of Bysan, and the village of Rihhah 
(Jericho ?), the plain is wholly unoccupied, unless by the Bedouins. e 

On approaching the Asphaltic Lake, the distance between the opposite mountains, as already 
intimated, is greatly increased — leaving between them and the river, on the east, the plains of 
Moab, and on the west the large plain of Jericho. As almost all the pilgrims and travellers 
in the Holy Land have made it a point to visit the Jordan, — to reach which, from Jerusalem, 
they must cross this plain, — there are few parts of Palestine which have been more frequently 
described. This plain is very extensive, probably eighteen miles in extreme length, by a 
breadth of seven or eight miles. It is bounded, internally, by tall mountains, which form a 
kind of bow by bending westward in their course from north to south. Of this bow the Jordan 
is as the chord. Beyond the river, eastward, are other mountains, as high or higher than 
these, and still more distant from the river ; the whole making the plain appear as the arena of 
an amphitheatre. This circle of enclosing mountains causes an extraordinary degree of heat 
in the plain, by the concentration and reflection of the sun's rays. The almost tropical warmth 
of this plain may also be partly ascribed to the sandy nature of its soil, the great depression of 

a Now pronounced Tabaria, or Tabareah. 

b Seetzen seems to say he had succeeded. He certainly did visit the eastern shore, but did not traverse its extent. From the 
north he went a little way down the eastern side to an Arab camp, but was obliged to return ; and from the south he went up the 
eastern shore as far as Feik, but the extensive tract between these two points he did not see. 

c Burckhardt. 318—33] ; Buckingham, c. xxvi. ; Lyndsay, 87—92. d " Two hours."— Burckhardt. 

e Seetzen, 22; Burckhardt, 344. 


its surface, the obstruction which the enclosing mountains offer to the passage of the external 
breezes, and, in some degree, to the aridity of the sides and summits of these mountains ; for, 
as well observed by Mariti, that heat is reflected with much greater force from such than from 
fertile or cultivated hills. The heat is so very strong, that as early as the latter end of April 
it deprived Morison of his appetite and sleep ; and Nau, as late as October, found even the 
nights oppressively warm. 

The soil of the plain is almost entirely composed of sand; but beyond Rihhah, to the north and 
to the east, it seems to be better, and not infertile. But the soil of the whole plain, the fertility 
of which has been so much extolled by various Latin writers, is not naturally fertile. All the 
richness it ever had, or yet, in some quarters, retains, has been owing to the spring of Elisha, 
which, in such a climate, rendered even this poor soil most productive wherever its waters 
came ; and certainly the appearance which it formerly offered, when these waters were dis- 
persed far around in numerous irrigating rills, must have been very different from that which 
it exhibits now, when, with the exception of some fruitful spots, the whole presents an arid and 
desolate appearance, and only one poor stunted palm-tree can be found within view of the 
ancient " city of palms." a 

Going down towards the head of the Dead Sea, the soil is still barren, but ceases to be sandy, 
having a surface of dark-coloured earth, which might be taken for alluvium, but that it pro- 
duces nothing but a few solitary desert plants, and seems as if included in the curse which 
overthrew the cities of the plain. It is much intersected by deep torrents, and crusted at the 
top, as if flooded occasionally by the swellings of the Jordan, or washed by copious rains. b 

The Dead Sea is hemmed in on the west by the mountains of Judea, and on the east by those 
of Moab. Of these mountains, and of the mineral products of this region, we have already 
written ; and our attention must now be confined to the vale which is left, on the east and on 
the west, between the margin of the lake and the feet of the mountains. The plain on the east 
side, which continues to bear the name of El Ghor, varies in breadth from one to four miles. 
It is not so entirely a desolation as the common descriptions of the lake would lead us to sup- 
pose. It has many fertile spots, particularly towards the south, and is to a great extent 
covered with forests, in the midst of which the miserable peasants who inhabit there build their 
huts of rushes, and cultivate their fields of dhourra and tobacco. The spots not cultivated are, 
for the most part, sandy ; so that there is but little pasturage, and the camels feed principally 
upon the leaves of trees. The resident peasants may amount to about 300 families. They 
live very poorly, owing to the continual exactions of the neighbouring Bedouins, who descend 
in winter from the mountains of Belka and Kerek, and pasture their cattle amidst their fields. 
The heat of the climate in this low valley, during the summer, renders it almost uninhabitable. 
The people then go nearly naked; but their low huts rather increase the mid-day heat, than 
afford shelter from it. c 

The character of the plain on the western border of the lake was perfectly unknown until 
lately visited by Professor Robinson and Rev. Eli Smith. All that former travellers could 
state amounted to some general impression formed from the partial and obscure view taken 
from the head of the lake. The American travellers advanced from the west to a point near 
the southern extremity of the lake, where the name of Ain Jiddi points out to us the Engeddi 
of the Bible. They first obtained a view of the lake from the summit of a precipitous cliff, 
overhanging Engeddi and the lake at the height of at least 1,500 feet. From this point we 
will copy their statement, with the omission of some parts which we shall require for another 
purpose : — 

" The Dead Sea lay before us in its vast deep chasm, shut in on both sides by precipitous 
mountains, and, with its low projecting points and flat border towards the south, resembling 
much a long winding bay, or the estuary of a large river d when the tide is out and the shoals 
left dry. We descended to the shore by a pass more steep, rugged, and difficult than is to 

a Nau, 349; Morison, 507 ; Surius, 491 ; Mariti, ii. 305 ; Monro, ii. 134-8; Taylor, ' La Syrie,' 175. 
t> Monro, ii. 145-6. c Burckhardt 390, 391. 

d An American bay, an American river, of course. 


be found among the Alps, and pitched our tent near a fine large fountain which bursts out 
upon a narrow terrace still 400 feet above the sea. The water of the fountain is beautifully 
transparent, but its temperature is 81° of Fahrenheit. 

" The whole descent below the fountain was apparently once terraced for gardens ; and the 
ruins of a town are to be seen on the right. The whole slope is still covered with shrubs and 
trees of a more southern clime. Nothing is needed but tillage to render this a most prolific 
spot. The soil is rich, the heat great, and water abundant. The approach to the sea is here 
over a bank of pebbles, several feet higher than the level of the water as we saw it. The 
phenomena around the sea are such as might be expected from the nature of its waters and 
the character of the region round about, — for the most part a naked, dreary waste. 

" Next morning we were compelled to re-ascend the pass in order to proceed northward along 
the shelving table-land above; the projecting cliffs cutting off all passage below along the 
water. At night we encamped again on a cliff 1,000 feet above the sea, overhanging the 
fountain Turabeh which is below on the shore. 

" We continued our course next day, descending again by a difficult pass; and after travelling 
several hours along the shore and over the plain, the soil of which is here in many parts like 
ashes, we arrived at the lower fords of the Jordan." a 

We have now to examine the great valley of Araba, which extends between the Asphaltic 
Lake and the Red Sea. The account which we have already given b of the mountains which 
enclose this valley was intentionally made to include such information as we possessed con- 
cerning the valley itself, that it might not be necessary again to return to it. But since then 
the Count de Bertou has communicated to the public a very interesting account of a journey 
made by him in April, 183S, throughout the whole extent of the valley from north to south. 
As he is the only European who has seen the whole of this important valley, and as his con- 
clusions are adverse to those of the travellers who, from Burckhardt downward, have only seen 
it in parts, it is desirable that we should report the more important of his observations. 

It is only necessary to premise that, as we have more than on one occasion stated, Burck- 
hardt saw good reason to conclude that the Jordan once flowed through this valley to the Red 
Sea, and that all subsequent travellers, till M. de Bertou, have acquiesced in this conclusion. 

The name El Ghor for a time is continued to the plain or valley south of the Dead Sea. 
M. de Bertou, on reaching the southern end of that lake, found the Ghor to be from two to 
three miles wide, and travelled over a plain covered with salt at the foot of salt-hills. d These 
hills diminish in height to the southward, and form the foreground to higher ranges behind 
them ; they are in every part furrowed by salt torrents, which flow in winter and inundate the 
plain. Seven miles e from the end of the Dead Sea the Count reached the chain of low hills, 
which since the morning had appeared to him the limit of El Ghor, and to close it up, by 
uniting the mountains of salt to those of Arabia. These hills are from sixty to seventy feet 
in height, and composed of a whitish and very friable sandstone : they form the buttresses or 
out-works (contreforts) of the desert, which stretches to the south, and is known by the name 
of Wady Araba : they are channeled by numerous small streams which fall into El Ghor and 
eventually into the Dead Sea. Just before reaching these hills the guides turned suddenly to 
the right, and cried out, " Wady Araba, Wady Araba!" and then the party entered this cele- 
brated valley. M. de Bertou confesses that this valley had at first the appearance of the bed 
of a great river ; and if its slope toere not visible toxcards the Dead Sea, one would exclaim 
on seeing it, " This is really the bed of the Jordan :" it is, however, he tells us, the bed of a 
torrent which flows in an opposite direction, namely, from south to north, and falls into El 
Ghor. There was no water in it. Its breadth, which is from 250 to 300 yards, is filled with 

a ' American Biblical Repository,' 1839, vol. i. part ii. p. 418, 419. b Page xlii.— xlv. 

c The account of this journey which we employ is that given in vol. ix. pp. 277—286, of the ' Journal of the Royal Geogra- 
phical Society.' The article is entitled, ' Notes of a Journey from Jerusalem to Hebron, the Dead Sea, El Ghor, and Wadi' 
Arabah to 'Akabah, and back by Petra, in April, 1838. By the Count de Bertou.' 

d We may here mention that the saline plain around the southern extremity of the Dead Sea appears to be the scriptural 
" Valley of Salt." 2 Kings xiv. 7. 

e So the account which we cite; but the map in the same Number of the ' Geographical Journal' makes the distance not less 
than twelve miles. 


tamarisks : it extends in a S.S.W. direction, and is bounded by almost vertical banks of 
gray freestone about 150 feet in height. In the continuation of this valley the hills on the 
right appear to be more furrowed than those on the left. 

After proceeding eleven miles, the travellers came in sight of Mount Hor in the distance. 
Still advancing, the Wady became broader, and assumed the aspect of a desert ; the. hills on 
each side decreased in height, and the plain seemed to ascend. At twelve miles the banks of 
the valley to the left disappear, and on the right distant mountains are perceived to the S. W. 
At eighteen miles a pause was made at a spring of tolerable water for the Desert, at the point 
where the valley is crossed by the road from Petra to Hebron. As the Count does not diverge 
to Petra, but continues straight on towards Akaba, his route even from this point continues to 
be one not in modern times trodden by a European. 

After travelling some miles from the well, the valley becomes about 1,500 yards wide ; and 
at ten miles from that well, another was reached of the temperature of 59 D Fahrenheit, the 
water being detestable both in taste and smell. Near this spring is a rock of soft reddish 
freestone, 10 feet high, covered with the names, or rather marks, of the Arabs who pass by this 
road. Beyond this the ground is covered with flint pebbles ; all vegetation has disappeared; 
and the Wady is gradually lost in the slightly undulating plain which extends towards the 
mountains in the east. And here, to prevent confusion, it may be proper to apprise the reader 
that our previous statements embraced the whole breadth of plain to the eastern hills of Seir, 
whereas the Count, to this point, limits his statement to the comparatively narrow valley of the 
torrent on its western border. 

The next morning the travellers passed on the right the Wady Talh (Acacia Vale), which 
extends to the westward, and which the Arab guides pointed out as the road to Egypt, being 
in fact the route which Burokhardt followed in 1812, when he went from Wady Mousa to 
Cairo. " From the junction of the Wady Talh," says M. de Bertou, " the Arabs give the 
name of Akaba (the Ascent) to the southern prolongation of the Wady Araba, so that this spot 
would seem to be the line which separates the waters flowing to the Dead Sea from those dis- 
charged into the Red Sea. Indeed it is impossible to mistake the two slopes, one to the north 
and the other to the south." 

From this point the road continued to be covered with small black flints, and with large but 
withered roses of Jericho. After having passed the Wady Gharendel the travellers continued 
their journey against the simoom wind, which brought with it a quantity of fine sand with 
which the plain is covered. The day following brought them to the spring of Ghadiyan, which 
is strongly impregnated with sulphur. 

To this point, it will be observed, the route of Count de Bertou. has been over ground un- 
trodden by any modern European, except where Burckhardt crossed it in his way from Petra 
to Egypt, and where Stephens and Lord Lyndsay crossed it in their way from Petra to Hebron. 
For the motive which has led travellers to enter the Wady Araba, has been the visit to Petra, 
which visit has always been made from Akaba. And the road from Akaba to Petra lies along 
the western side of the great valley only as far as this spring ; then it inclines over to the 
eastern hills to reach Wady Mousa, in which Petra lies. Returning thence, the route again 
inclines over to the western hills, to reach the roads to Cairo, Gaza, or Hebron, — that is, 
merely to get out of the valley westward, not to travel along its western border. Hence the 
peculiar claim of M. de Bertou is, that he has traversed the western edge of the valley through 
its whole extent. 

Below the spring of Ghadiyan, the valley is spread out into a great plain, covered with 
small gravel of porphyry and granite ; twenty-four miles through which brings the traveller 
to Akaba. As this great valley was traversed by the Hebrews in their pilgrimage, it is in- 
teresting to read the first feeling of the traveller who arrives at Akaba after having passed 
through it : — " The luxury of having fresh water in abundance, after having been obliged for 
eight days to drink water impregnated with brimstone, and exhaling an odour of rotten eggs, 
and for the last two days even to have occasionally wanted that, is not easily imagined by 
those who have not experienced it ; and when we saw the sakka (water-carrier) come to water 


the ground both within and without our tents, we could not help exclaiming against the appa- 
rent waste of so precious a fluid." 

The return route of M. de Bertou by Petra, to Hebron, is the same which other travellers 
have taken, and does not here require to be noticed. It offers no new facts — nor, perhaps, 
were any thought needful — in support of his grand conclusion, that, " in the present state of 
things, the Jordan never could have flowed into the JElanitic Gulf" 

We must honestly confess that we have received this announcement with more pain and 
reluctance than we ever thought that a mere geographical fact could possibly occasion. In 
the next chapter Ave shall have a more suitable occasion than now offers of subjecting it to the 
examination which it requires, and to receive it without murmuring, if we find that it must 
be received ; even though, in its obvious consequences, it overturns a most satisfactory and 
beautiful explanation, on which the mind could repose, of very serious difficulties, and revives 
them into greater force than they even formerly possessed. 

We shall now proceed to notice the valleys and plains of Palestine, which extend laterally 
between the two great longitudinal lines which we have now traced. In executing this part 
of our work we purpose to include in our survey all the plains and valleys which are of 
Scriptural or historical consequence, even though they may be of small geographical import- 
ance. We shall, as before, proceed from north to south. 

Of the plains and valleys in the northern part of Palestine — that is, in Galilee, besides 
those which have already been noticed in our survey of the two principal lines — our informa- 
tion is very scanty. In this, as in other cases, our information decreases with our distance 
from Jerusalem — that great centre of all interest and inquiry connected with the Holy Land, 

Many of the valleys of Galilee are small, but beautifully wooded, and the villagers who 
occupy them seem to be among the most happily situated of the inhabitants of Palestine. 

Speaking generally of this part of Galilee, which belonged to the tribe of Zebulon, Clarke 
says, " The scenery is to the full as delightful as in the rich vales upon the south of the 
Crimea : it reminded us of the finest parts of Kent and Surrey. The soil although stony is 
exceedingly rich, but it is now entirely neglected." 

The Valley of Abilene is the first of the vales which lie beyond the hills which skirt the 
coast between Cape Nakhoora and Acre. It is long and narrow, and bounded by low hills 
covered chiefly with oak. a 

The vale, which is particularly distinguished as the Valley of Zebulon, lies to the south- 
east of this, and is the first vale immediately from the plain of Acre. It is of somewhat an 
oval figure, and between three and four miles in length by one in breadth. This valley must 
have been a treasure to the tribe of Zebulon, to which it belonged, and by which it was doubt- 
less well cultivated. Although now under very partial cultivation, the natural fertility of the 
soil may be easily estimated by the dense abundance of the plants, field-flowers, and herbs, 
which it spontaneously produces. The enclosing hills are beautifully wooded, chiefly with the 
carob-tree and a sort of oak with whitish leaves. The pasturage of the vale is accounted among 
the finest in the Holy Land. b 

The Vale of Sepphoris takes its name from the city of Sepphor is, also called Dio Caesarea, 
which Josephus describes as the chief city of Galilee. It still survives as a village, and con- 
tinues to bear its old name in the slightly different form of Sephoury. This vale is separated 
by hills from that of Zebulon, which is to the west of it ; and it is on these hills that the town 
of Sephoury stands. This valley is about the same length as that of Zebulon, and forms a 
very fine plain, the verdure of which in the spring is most striking, abundantly enamelled with 
an endless variety of flowers, among which tulips of every colour are most conspicuous. The 
town and valley are celebrated for several circumstances in the later history of the Jews, and 
in the wars between the Moslems and the Christian kings of Jerusalem, which it will be our 
future duty to record. 6 

a Robinson, ii. 243. 

b Morison, 178; Pococke, vol. ii. part 1 ; Clarke, iv. J31; Skinner, i. 141; Robinson, i. 243. 

c Zuallart, iv. 77; Morison, 1/9; Pococke, vol. ii. part 1 ; Clarke, iv. 131-136. 
vol. i. q 


The small Vale of Nazareth, in which Jesus Christ was born and passed his early years, 
claims to he noticed on that account. It is a kind of hollow or basin, formed by inclosing 
mountains of no great height. " It seems," says Dr. Richardson, " as if fifteen mountains 
met to form one enclosure for this delightful spot ; they rise around it like the edge of a shell 
to guard it from intrusion. It is a rich and beautiful field in the midst of barren mountains. 
It abounds in fig-trees, small gardens, and hedges of the prickly pear, and the dense grass 
affords an abundant pasture. The village stands on an elevated situation on the western side 
of the valley, and contains between 600 and 700 inhabitants." This picture is in agreement 
with that which other travellers have drawn. Lord Lindsay thinks them all too highly 
coloured. a 

The declivity from the central hills of Galilee towards the great valley of the Jordan is 
formed by a succession of narrow plains rising one above another from the valley of that river. 
Here the soil is everywhere a fine black mould, deep and perfectly free from stones, and 
appearing in such a climate capable of almost any production, were but the hand of man 
applied to it. b 

Behind the hills which bound the lake of Gennesareth on the west there are some valleys 
which tradition indicates as the scenes of some of the transactions in the history of Jesus 
Christ, which certainly must have occurred somewhere in the neighbourhood. One of these is 
that in which Christ is supposed to have multiplied the seven loaves and fishes. This valley 
is long and of moderate width. The extremity, which advances towards the lake of Gennesareth, 
is between Tiberias and Bethsaida. It is a fine valley, with green and abundant grass, and 
well capable of containing, seated thereon, a great number of people. The hill, on which our 
Lord is alleged to have stood when he blessed the loaves and fishes, is of less height than some 
of those on the opposite side of the valley. It hears the somewhat odd name of "La Table de 
la Multiplication," according to Nau, who with his party sat down and ate a commemorate 
morsel of bread on the spot. d 

Froni the top of this hill is visible the alleged Mount of Beatitudes, of which we have 
already spoken (p. lvi.), and which it is only necessary to mention further for the sake of 
stating, that it stands detached in the midst of an extensive plain, greatly elevated above the 
level of the Jordan, from which cause even the low summits found here command extensive 
prospects in different directions. 6 

From hence the road westward to Cana lies over a succession of broad valleys for nearly 
three hours. In one of these, about two miles from Cana, an old terebinth-tree is pointed out 
as marking the field in which the disciples of Christ occasioned a dispute with the Pharisees 
by plucking ears of corn on the sabbath-day . f This is a fertile champaign, and is, or was, 
under partial cultivation.? 

Before leaving this part of the country, it may be well to notice the extensive valley or plain 
which lies behind the hills which bound the northern extremity of the lake of Gennesareth, on the 
western side. Richardson, the only traveller who has passed this plain since Pococke, describes 
it as " an extensive open field, which bore an abundant crop of thistles, and in which herds of 
black cattle were feeding." This is in conformity with the accounts of the old travellers. It is, in 

a Richardson, ii. 434; Lindsay, ii. 82. t Robinson, i. 234. c Matt. xv. 32. 

» The accounts of some of our own travellers differ from this and from one another about the alleged scene of this miracle. The 
old Catholic travellers, especially when priests or monks, were certain that they were at the spots which their traditions (whether 
right or wrong) indicated, and could not be deceived. But our own Protestant or sceptical travellers — and, as such, indifferent or 
doubtful — might, at the convenience of their guides, have almost any site or object pointed out to them as that for which they 
inquired. So between wrong indications on the one hand, and from misunderstanding the tradition when the right indication 
has been given, on the other, they often manage to arrive at a very strong conclusion concerning the doltish knavery of those who 
settled the sites of such transactions. Now, men are seldom such dolts as travellers think them. In the present case a wrong site 
seems to have been shown to some, while others have understood that it was exhibited as the scene of the multiplication of the 
Jive loaves and the fishes, which they triumphantly tell us must have taken place on the opposite or eastern side of the lake. But 
all the old Catholic travellers say that it was the miracle of the seven loaves, not of the Jive loaves, which took place here. Most 
of them were quite aware of the difference between the sites of the two miracles, and Father Nau has as clear and able an expla- 
nation on the subject as can possibly be given. We are far from undertaking to say that this was really the site of the miracle in 
question. That is a matter with which we have nothing to do in the present work ; but it appears to us as probable a site as 
could possibly be indicated in the neighbourhood. 

e Nau, 595 ; Elliot, ii. 358. f Luke vi. g Morison, 194 ; Nau, 597. 


fact, an extensive plain, forming a rich pasture-ground, on which account it seems, in all times, 
to be much frequented by the Bedouins with their flocks. It bears the name of Dothan, from 
a village so called, and is regarded by the inhabitants of Palestine, as well as by the Jews, as 
the ground on which the sons of Jacob were pasturing their flocks when they sold Joseph to 
the Ishmaelites. We are told, in the sacred narrative, that Joseph had expected to find them 
near Shechem, but, on arriving there, heard that they had removed their flocks to Dothan, and 
went there to seek them. That this plain is the Dothan in question has been disputed, on the 
ground of the distance from Hebron and from Shechem. The town of Shechem is two days 
and a half, or three days' journey from Hebron, and this present plain is about an equal distance 
from Shechem. To counterbalance this, there are the facts — that this plain is a famous pasture- 
ground, and that it lies on the road to a well-known place of passage over the Jordan (where 
there is now a bridge, called Jacob's Bridge) ; so that it is a very likely place for the Ishmaelite 
traders to have passed in their way to Egypt. Whatever be the probabilities of the question, 
the objections, founded solely on the distances stated, do not deserve attention, when the 
habits of the migratory shepherds are taken into account. Such writers, therefore, as Nau and 
Morison, long resident in the country, and well acquainted with Bedouin habits, are more in 
the right, when they refer to such habits as explaining the distance, than Richardson, who, 
with a palpable reference to the habits of another condition of life, remarks : — " This is a long- 
way from Hebron for the sons of Jacob to go to feed their herds, and a still further way for a 
solitary youth like Joseph to be sent by his father in quest of them." But Joseph was not sent 
by his father to Dothan, but only to Shechem, and Joseph, of his own accord, went to Dothan 
when he could not find them there. — But we will not be tempted into these questions ; and we 
beg it to be understood that, in mentioning a particular spot as the alleged scene of this or that 
transaction, we feel it no part of our present duty to examine the truth or probability of the alle- 
gation, unless when some point of public history is involved, of sufficient importance to render such 
an examination expedient. But we may say, generally, that in all such cases, we should, in the first 
instance, be disposed to consider the current determinations of sites to be right, unless we could find 
some good reasons to conclude them wrong — rather than, with some travellers and writers, deem 
them all, in the first instance, to be wrong, until we find good reasons for believing them correct. 

We shall now leave this northern division of Palestine, and proceed to the great central plain 
which divides Galilee and Samaria. 

The Plain of Esdraelon, known in Scripture as the " Plain of Megiddo," measures about 
thirty miles in length, from east to west, and eighteen in breadth, from north to south. On 
the north it is bounded by the mountains of Galilee, and on the south by those of Samaria ; on 
the eastern part, by Mount Tabor, the Little Hermon, and Gilboa ; and on the west by Carmel, 
between which range and the mountains of Galilee is an outlet, whereby the river Kishon 
winds its way to the bay of Acre. Professor Robinson, in his instructive memoir, informs us 
that the eastern part of the plain has never yet been correctly laid down in the maps. " Two 
mountain-ridges run out into it from the east, commencing near the brow of the Jordan 
valley, and extending westward to near the middle of the plain. The southern ridge is Gilboa, 
and the north is the Little Hermon of Jerome. They divide the eastern half of the plain into 
three parts ; of which the northern and. southern decline towards the west, and their waters 
flow off to the Kishon, while the middle portion, between Gilboa and Hermon, slopes to the 
east, and its waters descend to the Jordan through a broad valley, or plain, at Bysan, the 
ancient Bethshan." This central valley, or plain, may, we suppose, be the Valley of 
Jezreel, so often mentioned in Scripture, although that name appears to have been sometimes 
applied in a large sense to the whole plain of Esdraelon. 

This great plain possesses the elements of great fertility, having a rich alluvial soil, about 
three feet deep, resting on a substratum of gravel and whitish limestone. As seen from above, 
it is not a perfect level, but a tract of gentle undulations, in the midst of the hills which inclose 
it on every side. It is destitute of trees ; but so rich and spontaneously fertile is the soil, that 
Morison thinks that, if it were cultivated as it ought to be, it would alone suffice to supply the 



whole of Galilee with corn, even were that province as populous now as it was in ancient 
times. But, he says, it was in his time almost entirely uncultivated, although so covered with 
green herbage, as to evince what Nature could do if seconded by man. It is difficult to account 
for this last intimation, as other writers, before and after Morison, describe the plain as being 
to a considerable extent under cultivation. Zuallart implies that much was cultivated, and the 
remainder left to pasturage ; for he describes it as affording abundance of corn, wine, oil, 
herbage, and all things necessary to the life of man or beast. D'Arvieux, who was there in 
May, when the corn had nearly reached maturity, says that when one looks over the plain from 
an eminence, and sees the immense surface of corn in motion from the breeze, a lively image 
of the agitations of the sea is presented to him. It is still probably cultivated to the same 
extent. In early spring, Major Skinner saw the plains green in all directions with the rising 
grain. Another recent traveller, whose name we forget, describes much of it, particularly in 
the eastern part, as furrowed by the plough. Yet Clarke speaks of it as " one vast meadow, 
covered with the richest pastures." From all this we collect that there is much pasture-ground, 
and much cultivation in the plain : and those who describe it as uncultivated, but rich in 
natural herbage, passed through those parts only which were in this state, and inferred all 
the rest to be like it, as they could not well, in the wide general survey from an eminence, 
distinguish, in so fertile a plain, the cultivated from the uncultivated parts, especially after the 
crops have been gathered in. 

In the distribution of Canaan to the people of Israel, by Joshua, this celebrated portion fell 
to the lot of Issachar, who in its fertile and well-watered soil had abundant cause to "rejoice 
in their tents. " a And at this day some of the more peaceably inclined Bedouin tribes are seen 
living under tents, surrounded by their flocks, for the sake of the rich pastures it affords. Thus 
the latter end of the country is like its beginning. Then the old patriarchs wandered with 
their flocks among the towns and villages of Canaan, and fed them, even in the peopled dis- 
tricts, without molestation. This was before the country had become populous ; and now the 
same thing is witnessed when, after having been most populous, it has again become thinly 

The historical celebrity of this plain is very great. It is that " mighty plain " — juiya tteSiov, 
as it is called by many ancient writers, — which has in all ages been the famous battle-ground 
of nations. In the first ages of the Jewish history, as well as during the Roman empire, the 
Crusades, and even in later times, it has been the scene of many a memorable contest. In this 
great plain, Barak, descending with ten thousand men from Mount Tabor, fought with the 
kings of Canaan, " by the waters of Megiddo." Here king Josiah was slain in battle with 
the Egyptians. And " it has been the chosen place for encampment in every contest carried 
on in this country," to use the words of Dr. Clarke, " from the days of Nabuchodonosar, king 
of the Assyrians, until the disastrous march of Napoleon Buonaparte from Egypt into Syria. 
Jews, Gentiles, Saracens, Crusaders, Egyptians, Persians, Druses, Turks, Arabs, and French, 
warriors out of every nation which is under heaven, have pitched their tents upon the plain of 
Esdraelon, and have beheld their banners wet with the dews of Tabor and of Hermon." b 

The country of Samaria, situated between Galilee and Judea, has been much less explored 
than either. Pilgrims and travellers have crossed and re-crossed Judea and Galilee in every 
direction, in order to visit the different spots of sacred or historical interest which are dispersed 
in them. But the only points in Samar,ia which the sacred history has made memorable are 
about Shechem and Samaria, which are not more than four miles from each other ; and as no 
other part of the country has been thought worthy of attention, no route but that which includes 
these two places has been followed. Content to look at Shechem and Samaria in their way ? 
pilgrims and travellers have regarded this really interesting and important part of Palestine 
merely as a road from Galilee to Judea, or from Judea to Galilee, in which the same well- 

a Deut. xxxiii. 18. 

b Elliot, ii. 360; ' Am. Biblical Repository,' No. xxxiv. 429 ; Morison, 220; Zuallart, iv. 83; Roger, 73; Quaresmius, lib. vii. 
cap. 4; D'Arvieux, ii. 292; Clarke, iv. 35G— 360 ; Jolliffe, 42; Jowett, ii. 191; Skinner, i. 2/6; Robinson, i. 214; Stephens, 
ii. 347. 


trodden path has almost invariably been followed. Samaria, being thus very imperfectly 
known, the notice we have to take of its valleys will be found greatly disproportionate to the 
relative extent of its figure in the maps of Palestine. 

Samaria seems, upon the whole, a much more open and less mountainous country than either 
Galilee or Judea. It has mountains, indeed, but they are in general less high and abrupt, and 
of more rounded forms, than those of the north or south. There is little of stern or steril 
aspect in Samaria. The sides of the shapely hills are for the most part beautifully wooded, 
while the valleys commonly open out into fertile plains or basins, surrounded by hills. These 
plains and valleys are watered by numerous streams, which contribute greatly to their fertility. 
Of the trees with which this fine province is stocked, the olive-trees greatly exceed all others in 
number. Wild animals a and feathered game (especially the red partridge) are more abun- 
dant than in Judea, or even in Galilee. But with all these advantages, towns and villages 
occur less frequently than in the other two provinces, nor are the inhabitants near as numerous. 
It being a more open country, and therefore more exposed to injuries and oppression, may 
possibly account for this. 

The valley of Jennin — one of the numerous vales which lead out of the plain of Esdraelon — 
is that through which the usual route from Galilee to the city of Samaria lies. This valley is 
about thirteen miles long, and its width is about two miles in the northern part, — that is, as 
far as the interruption offered about midway by the hill on which stands the ruined castle of 
Sanhoor, after which it becomes more narrow. This valley, which some take to be the Scrip- 
tural valley of Jezreel, is watered by a brook, and is very fertile, well planted with olive-trees, 
considerably cultivated, and offering green pastures in those parts to which cultivation does 
not extend. This valley was doubtless in former times, as now, the high road by which the 
inhabitants of Galilee, who " must needs go through Samaria," journeyed when they went to 
celebrate the periodical festivals at Jerusalem . b 

The city of Samaria c stood but a few miles from the termination of this valley. It offers a 
curious and imposing appearance, standing, as it does, in terraces upon a high semi-spherical 
mount, standing alone in the midst of one of those inclosed basins or hollows for which Samaria 
is particularly noted. The inclosed valley which surrounds the central hill is very beautiful, 
watered by running streams, and covered by a rich carpet of grass, sprinkled with wild 
flowers of every hue ; while beyond, stretched like an open book before one who stands upon 
the hill, lies the boundary of pleasant mountains, on which the olive and the vine are seen 
rising in terraces to the very summits. d 

From this place Lord Lindsay took a route across the country to Carmel, e which enabled 
him to see a portion of Samaria not often visited by travellers. He describes the country as 
full of villages, well cultivated, and quite beautiful. After clearing the hills he proceeded 
along a beautiful and very extensive plain — a prolongation, doubtless, of the vale of Sharon — 
where the scenery suggested a comparison with Kent. " Nothing could exceed the richness 
of the soil or the beauty of its produce, even of the thistles, with which every fallow and uncul- 
tivated field was overgrown, and which were of the deepest hue and most luxuriant growth. 
Presently, leaving the plain, we rode for two hours through a range of sloping hills covered 
with beautiful valonidis, or evergreen oaks, — regular English park scenery ; then the trees 
ceasing, through a continued expanse of sloping downs, till we reached the southern prolonga- 
tion of Carmel." f 

Sandys, in travelling by land from Ramla to Acre (a rare journey), passed through the dis- 
tricts thus described ; but the first part of his journey lay through the western part of a more 
southern portion of Samaria than Lord Lindsay saw. He speaks mostly of woods. He passed 
behind, inland, that wood of Sharon, the outer part of which, facing the coast, we have 

a Perhaps it was so anciently also. See 2 Kings xvii. 25, 26. 

t> Dr. Robinson, ' Am. Bib. Repos., 139, 428 ; Morison, 225, 228 ; Clarke, iv. 264; Maddox, Skinner, Stephens, Lindsay, and 
Elliot, passim, in Samaria. 

c The ruined site now bears the name of Subusta, a modification of Sebaste [the Greek for Augustus], the name imposed on the 
city by Herod after it had been greatly improved by him. 

<1 Elliot, ii. 381 ; Stephens, ^315. 

c The route is the same as that of Shaw, of which Lord Lindsay does not seem to have been aware. f Lindsay, ii. /C, 77. 



[Chap. V. 

already noticed. Of this he says, — " After a while we entred a goodly forrest full of tall and 
delightfull trees, intermixed with fruitfull and dowry lawnes. Perhaps the earth affordeth 
not the like, it cannot a more pleasant." a 

. < 

.''."■ ' 'r-'- : ;-'■' §' 4 > : zz.- 

lilBIllll/* 1 


[Valley of Shechem, with Mounts Ebal and Gerizim.] 

The town of Nablous — the Shechem of the Old Testament and the Sychar of the New Testa- 
ment — is about four miles b south from the ruined city of Samaria. The long narrow valley 
in which it stands has already been described as extending its length from east to west between 
the mountains of blessing and cursing — the fertile Gerizim and the barren Ebal. So abun- 
dantly is this valley watered that, popularly, it is said to be enriched by 365 springs. " There 
is nothing in the Holy Land," says Dr. Clarke, " finer than the view of Nablous from the 
heights around it. As the traveller descends towards it from the hills, it appears luxuriantly 
embosomed in the most delightful and fragrant bowers, half concealed by rich gardens and by 
stately trees collected into groves all around the bold and beautiful valley in which it stands." 

This valley leads into a fine plain, waving with corn in the time of summer, and which is 
concluded to have formed or to have contained " the parcel of ground which Jacob gave to his 
son Joseph," being the same which he purchased from the Shechemites. d The road south- 
ward towards Jerusalem lies across this plain, from which we pass into the beautiful valley of 
Leban, e which, although narrow, is not under eight miles in length. On crossing a brook, and 
ascending the hills at the end of this valley, we leave Samaria and enter the kingdom of Judea. f 

Travellers are apt to form the notion that a part of Palestine, so supremely honoured as 
Judea was, must needs surpass in fertility and beauty ; and that the ancient descriptions of 
the glory and richness of the country at large must apply with concentrated effect to Judea in 
particular. This arises from an association of ideas which there is nothing in Scripture to call 
for or to warrant. We are aware of no passage in which Judea is so described even by impli- 
cation. Cultivation — such cultivation as Judea anciently received, when the terraced sides of 
its hills were clad with olives and with vines, and when its valleys were waving with corn — 
might, and did, make it not inferior to any other part of the country, and perhaps superior in 

a Sandys, 202. b " An hour and a half."— Elliot. c Clarke, iv. 267; Elliot, ii. 390. 

11 John iv. 5; Gen. xxxiii. 19. e " Labonah," Judges xxi. 19. 

f M.umdrell, 63 ; Clarke, iv. 232; Lindsay, ii. 73; Elliot, ii. 407- 


variety of produce : but in a state of nature — into which state it has nearly fallen back — it is, 
for the most part, the least pleasant and fertile part of Palestine, with the exception of some 
peculiarly favoured districts. All travellers confess this, some of them reluctantly and with 
heavy hearts. We have already intimated something of this in our accounts of the mountains 
of Palestine ; but as we intend to let these chapters stand for a description of the country, 
there is no more suitable place than the present of enlarging somewhat further on this 

Of the three elements of fertility in this climate, water, warmth, and soil, Judea can only be 
said to have warmth. The climate is warmer than that of Samaria or Galilee, while the surface 
- offers but little vegetable mould, and water is scarce ; and hence, except for a short time after 
the latter rains, the land presents an aspect of drought and desolation, singularly at variance 
with the accounts which several ancient writers give of its former fertility and pleasantness, and 
most disappointing to those whose expectations have been based on those accounts, — forgetting 
that the country now wants that teeming population to which its ancient richness was owing, — 
that it is now still in enjoyment of its long sabbath, and is waiting the dawning of another day 
to resume the robes of glory and beauty it once wore. 

In such a matter as this, the direct testimony of believing travellers is of much importance ; 
and we therefore introduce the testimonies which follow. Maundrell, journeying to Jerusalem, 
after having left Samaria, by the route we have indicated, observes : — " All along this day's 
travel, from Kane [Khan] Leban to Beer, and also as far as we could see around, the country 
discovered a quite different face from what it had before — presenting nothing to the view, in 
most places, but naked rocks, mountains, and precipices." 

Dr. Richardson advanced to Jerusalem by a very common route, from the N.W., by Jaffa 
and Ramla. The last-named town is on the inner border of the plain of Sharon. The hill 
country of Judea is distant two hours and a half from Ramla ; but the characteristic desolation 
of Judea begins to be exhibited long before reaching these hills — that is, as soon as an ascent 
has been made from the frontier plain to another more elevated. " The aspect of the country," 
says the Doctor, " was now become bleak, the trees both few and small, the grass withered, 
from the little depth of soil, hard, and of bad quality. For some time before we reached 
the mountains, we kept looking up at their dusky sides, as they rose, in towering grandeur, to 
the height of 1000 or 1500 feet above our heads, covered with sun-burnt grass ; a here and 
there disclosing strips of the bare horizontal rocks, and diversified with a few bushy trees, that 
stood at very unfriendly and forlorn distances from each other." Again: — " The hills, from the 
commencement of the mountain scenery [in this quarter], are all of a round, handsome shape, 
meeting in the base and separated at the tops, not in peaks, or pointed accuminations, but like 
the gradual retiring of two round balls placed in juxtaposition. Their sides are partially covered 
with earth, which nourishes a feeble sprinkling of withered grass, with here and there a dwarf 
shrub or solitary tree. They are not susceptible of cultivation, except on the very summit, 
where we saw the plough going in several places. They might be terraced ; but there are no traces 
of their ever having been so. The rock crops out in many places, but never in precipitous cliffs ; 
the strata in many places have exactly the appearance of stone courses in a building." b 

The view over the north-eastern part of Judea, as commanded from the high ridge on which 
stands Anathoth, c the birthplace of Jeremiah, is thus described by Professor Robinson : — 
" From this point there is a view over the whole eastern slope of the mountainous region, 
including also the valley of the Jordan, and the northern part of the Dead Sea. The whole tract 
is made up of deep rugged valleys, running eastward, with broad ridges of uneven table-land 
between, often rising into high points. The sides of the valleys are so steep, that in descending 
into them we were often obliged to dismount from our horses. The whole district is a mass of 
limestone rock, which everywhere juts out above the surface, and imparts to the whole land 
only the aspect of sterility and desolation. Yet, wherever soil is found among the rocks, it is 

a These observations were made in the middle of April. 

*> Richardson, ii. 221—223. This last passage more properly belongs to the chapter on Mountains; but we overlooked it at the 
time, and it is not unsuitably introduced in this place. 
c Now Anata. 


strong and fertile ; fields of grain appeared occasionally ; and fig-trees and olive-trees were 
scattered everywhere among the hills. Lower down the slope, towards the Jordan valley, all 
is desert." a 

Lord Lindsay, who traversed the whole extent of Judea from south to north, makes the 
important general remark, — " All Judea, except the hills of Hebron and the vales immediately 
about Jerusalem, is desolate and barren ; but the prospect brightens as soon as you quit it, and 
Samaria and Galilee still smile like the Land of Promise. " b Mr. Stephens, who travelled the 
same route, says, in effect, nearly the same thing. 

But there is a season — after the spring rains and before the hot sun has absorbed all the 
moisture left by them — when even the desert is clothed with verdure ; and at that season 
even the valleys of Judea present a refreshingly green appearance. But this happy season is 
not naturally of long continuance, and the skilful or laborious hand of man is not now present 
to perpetuate the blessedness which that season brings. 

After this general notice, we will now proceed to enumerate such of the particular valleys or 
plains as seem most to demand our attention 

The most northernly spot we shall notice is Ainbroot, which some suppose to be the scrip- 
tural Bethoron. This spot shines like a gem amid the desolation of Judea. All travellers 
mention it with admiration. The village is prettily situated upon an eminence, and commands 
on all sides a view of fertile and well-cultivated valleys. Lord Lindsay declares that this spot 
exhibited some of the loveliest scenery he had ever beheld — " Olive and fig-gardens, vineyards 
and corn-fields, overspreading the valleys, and terraced on the hills, alternating with waste 
ground, overgrown with the beautiful prickly oak and lovely wild flowers." 

The Valley of Bethel has been already noticed (p. 108). Although stony, as of old, 
and surrounded by stony mountains, this vale is prettily situated about eight miles to the north 
of Jerusalem. 

The Gibeon d of the Scriptures is situated upon a sharp rocky ridge, rising in the midst 
of broad valleys or plains, which form an extensive basin, full of corn-fields, vineyards, 
and orchards of olive and fig-trees. e The situation of this valley seems to correspond to 
that which some of the old travellers point out as the valley of Aijalon, over which Joshua 
commanded the moon to rest. But this valley has been indicated in so many and distant 
places, that it is difficult to receive this identification, especially if Jib be identified with 
Gibeon/ Morison says of this valley that it was the broadest of all he had seen in Judea, 
where, in general, the valleys are narrow and pressed close by their enclosing mountains. 

The Valley of Jeremiah is a long and steril vale, which takes its name from the notion 
that Anathoth, the birth-place and residence of the. prophet, stood upon the enclosing hills. A 
narrow gullet or pass leads from this southward into the Valley of Elah, called also the 
Terebinth Vale, the alleged scene of David's victory over Goliah, and where they still show 
the brook from which the youthful champion picked the " smooth stones " with which he 
smote the Philistine. The whole, however — the vale with the enclosing hills — bears the name 
of the Wilderness of St. John [the Baptist], from its being supposed — we should think erro- 
neously—to have been the scene of the birth and early history of the Great Forerunner. Not- 
withstanding the formidable name of " desert " or " wilderness," this is altogether one of the 
pleasantest places in Judea. It is an agreeable solitude, enjoying a pure air and productive 
soil ; and where, although the people are few, there is much cultivation, from which excellent 
corn and exquisite wine is obtained. As recent travellers have been somewhat confused in 
appropriating the respective names of the Valley of Elah and the Desert of St. John, it may 
be well to intimate that the eastern hills are those of Modin, while the western are more espe- 
cially appropriated to the memories of the Baptist, and that the valley by which they are 
separated is that of Elah. The valley, with all the hills which enclose it, is the Desert of 
St. John. The vale now exhibits few of the terebinth-trees which gave it name ; olive-trees 

■ ' Am. Biblical Repository,' 1839, p. 415. b Lindsay, ii. 70. c Stephens, ii. 297 ! Lindsay, ii. 72. 

d Gubao of Josephus, now Jib. c Dr. Robinson, 41G. f Josh. xx. 


and carob-trees prevail. The famous brook is dry in summer, but in the season of rain it 
becomes a mighty torrent whicli inundates the vale. After ascending the hills which bound 
this valley, the southward traveller finds himself at the edge of one of the most dreary plains 
that can be imagined, covered with stone ; and this extends to the borders of Jerusalem. 1 

The valleys which surround the height on which Jerusalem stands claim our especial 
notice, on account of the historical and sacred interest connected with them, rather than from 
their geographical importance in a general survey of the valleys of the land. 

The renowned city is very singularly situated. Samaria offers some similarity of situation ; 
and this similarity probably suggested the establishment there of that city, which was at one 
time the rival metropolis of the land. Samaria, as we have seen, stood on an eminence in the 
midst of a hollow enclosed by hills, and is therefore surrounded by the valleys which intervene 
between the bases of the enclosed and enclosing hills. Jerusalem, in like manner, is seated upon 
an eminence, or rather a collection of eminences, within a basin of enclosing hills and valleys. 
But this enclosure is only on three sides ; for on the north the site opens to the high plains. 
Comparison between the sites of Jerusalem and Samaria ends with this principle, for there is 
no other resemblance. The shape and extent of the enclosed basin is different altogether. 
At Samaria the surrounding valleys are far more broad and cheerful, and the enclosing hills 
are more regular and beautiful than those at Jerusalem. 

The figure of the site of Jerusalem being irregularly oblong, the valleys on the east and 
west — and especially the former — are much longer than the one on the south. To these val- 
leys our present attention will be confined. 

The most extensive and important of these valleys is that which lies east of the city — be- 
tween it and the Mount of Olives. This is the Valley of Jehoshaphat. It is rather 
more than a mile in length, but narrow, as there are few places in which its breadth exceeds 
200 yards. This is that memorable valley so often mentioned under different names (') by 
the sacred historians and prophets ; and which is sanctified in the memories of men afar off 
by the knowledge that its soil is replete with the dust of thousands of holy and venerable 
personages ; and has been moistened by the tears of the prophets and the blood of the saints. 
Who knows not, also, that this valley was often traversed by David, or by "the Son of Man," 
whenever the record of their griefs bears witness that they crossed the brook of Kedron, or 
ascended Mount Olivet ; or that it is the peculiar and awful distinction of this valley, that 
Jews, Mohammedans, and the mass of Christians, live and die in the persuasion that this is 
" the Valley of Decision," — the valley to which all the nations shall be gathered in the great 
and terrible day of final judgment. 

Properly speaking, this hollow is rather a ravine than a valley — " a deep and rugged ra- 
vine," — as it is called by Lamartine, whose highly-wrought and figurative language is here 
applied with so much more than the usual appropriateness as to warrant the use of his 
description. " It was a deep and narrow valley, enclosed on the north by dark and barren 
heights which contained the sepulchres of kings, shaded on the west by the heavy and gigantic 
walls of a city of iniquities; covered at the east by the summit of the Mount of Olives, and 
crossed by a torrent, which rolled its bitter and yellow waters over the broken rocks of the 
valley of Jehoshaphat. At some paces distant 15 a black and bare rock detaches itself like a 
promontory from the base of the mountain, and, suspended over Kedron and the valley, bears 
several old tombs of kings and patriarchs, formed in gigantic and singular architecture, and 
strides, like the bridge of death, over the valley of lamentations. At that period [the time of 
Christ's ' agony '], no doubt, the sloping sides of Mount Olivet, now nearly bare, were wa- 
tered by brooks from the pools, and by the still running stream of Kedron. Gardens of 
pomegranate, orange, and olive-trees, covered with a thicker shade the narrow valley of 
Gethsemane, which delves like a sanctuary of grief into the darkest depths of the valley of 

a Roger, 152; Rochetta, 274; Morison, 497, 534; Nan, 467; Skinner, i. 199; Stephens, ii. 208; Taylor, • La Syrie,' 146. 
b He is describing from the site of the Garden of Gethsemane, near the north end of the valley, at the foot of the Mount of 

VOL. I. r 


The olive plantations and vineyards are thin and few, and confined mostly to the northern 
part, upon and under the Mount of Olives. The valley deepens and widens in its progress 
southward — save that it somewhat narrows at about the middle part, where occur those old 
sepulchral monuments of which Lamartine speaks. Nor are these the sole memorials of the 
dead. The sides of the valley, particularly towards this middle portion, are almost paved 
with black and white sepulchral stones — thousands and tens of thousands, — for this is the 
place where, three thousand years ago, the Jew buried his dead under the shadow of his 
Temple ; and ever since — because this is holy ground, and because it is held that men shall, 
in this vale, rise at the last day to honour or shame — the Jew journeys in his old age from 
the uttermost parts of the earth, that when he dies his bones may be laid in this valley of his 
fathers' sepulchres. 

The famous brook Kedron, which traverses the length of this valley, is a mere winter-tor- 
rent, quite dry for the greater part of the year. 

The valley to the south, under Mount Zion, and between it and the, so called, Hill of 
Evil Council,' 1 is most probably that to which the Scripture gives the name of Ben-Hinnom, 
or, in the Greek, Ge-Hennom — " The valley of the son of Hinnom." Who this Hinnom 
was is not known. This valley is rather more than half a mile long. " Its breadth is about 
fifty yards, and its depth perhaps twenty, measuring from the bottom to the highest part of 
Mount Zion." b It is traversed by the channel of a winter-torrent, which begins in the western 
valley and ends in the bed of the Kedron. The valley is wider at the eastern end, which joins 
the valley of Jehoshaphat, than at the western, which joins the valley of Gihon. This ravine 
formed part of the boundary between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Both its sides are 
cut down perpendicularly, as if it had served for a quarry to the ancient city, — and this circum- 
stance increases its resemblance to a trench or ditch ; and practically it did serve as a fosse 
on that side to " the city of David " on Mount Zion. The bottom is rock covered with a 
thin sprinkling of earth washed down from the higher ground. Being comparatively well 
watered, it was anciently rich in gardens and groves, amid which the apostate Israelites, in the 
days of the monarchy, celebrated the horrid rites of Moloch, not unfrequently attended with 
the offering of human victims in sacrifice to his grim idol. Hence its frequent mention by 
the prophets in their denunciations of the " dark idolatries of alienated Judah;" and in these 
it sometimes bears the name of Tophet, from the tabrets (called in Hebrew top/i) with which 
the cries of the victims were drowned. After the captivity had extinguished the propensity 
of the Jews to idolatry, the memories connected with this spot caused it to be regarded 
with abhorrence ; and, following the example of king Josiah, c it was appropriated to the 
vilest uses. Every kind of filth was thrown into it, as well as the carcasses of animals 
and the dead bodies of malefactors. But, to obviate the evil consequences which might be 
expected to ensue if such a mass of corruptible matter were left to putrefy, fires were con- 
stantly kept up in the valley to reduce the whole to ashes. Hence the metaphor which, in the 
New Testament and in the Jewish writings, transfers the name of Gehenna to that other place, 
" where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." On the farther side of this 
valley, towards the south-east, is the spot supposed, with very good reason, to be " Aceldama," 
the field of blood, which was bought with the price of the treason of Judas for " a field to 
bury strangers in." d The rocky and precipitous hill-side is here and elsewhere pierced with 
tombs of various forms and dimensions. The soil of Aceldama has had the reputation of 
reducing to dust within twenty-four hours the bodies deposited in it ; and it was, if it be not 
still, believed, that it did not lose its decomposing properties even when carried to a distance. 6 

a Because the house of Caiaphas, where the chief-priests and the scribes took council against Christ, is supposed to have stood 
upon the top of the hill. Very unlikely. 

b Robinson ; who is probably right, although his estimate of the breadth is much under that of Eugene Roger, who says,— 
" Laquelle peut avoir mil cinq cents pas de longueur' d'orient a l'occident, et trois a quatre cents de largeur." 

c 2 Kings, xxiii. 10. d Matt, xxvii. 3-8. 

e '* By order of the Empress Helena, 270 ship-loads of this soil were transported to Rome, and deposited in the Campo Santo 
near the Vatican, where it was wont to reject the bodies of the Romans, and only consume those of strangers ! The interior of the 
Campo Santo at Pisa is also tilled with this soil, where I saw it, two years ago, producing a rank crop of alnpccurus and other 
grasses." — Monro, ii. 204. 


These deep valleys on the east and south must always have restricted the extent of Jeru- 
salem, in those quarters, within its present limits. But this is not the case on the west ; for 
the western valley, which is called the valley of Gihon, is so shallow, that, according to Mr. 
Elliot, there is no palpable absurdity in supposing that it may have been included, with a 
portion of the opposite hill, in the ancient Jerusalem. On arriving on the verge of this valley, 
opposite Jerusalem, Lamartine says, " A vacant space of some hundred paces alone lay 
between us and the gate of Bethlehem. This area, barren, sloping, and waste, resembling 
the glacis which at a certain distance surrounds the fortified towns of Europe, opened to the 
right, and descended with a gentle declivity into a narrow valley." The valley is, however, 
considerably wider in its southern part than at this place. 

Having completed this brief survey of the valleys which surround the humbled " city of the 
Great King," we may now proceed to explore the other valleys and the plains of Judea. 

The road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem lies through a continued valley upwards of six 
miles in length, and of very considerable breadth. a The entrance to it is south-west of Jeru- 
salem from the valley of Gihon. All the old travellers identify it with the Valley of 
Rephaim so often mentioned in the Scriptures, and which is there celebrated for its fertility 
and for the victory of David over the Philistines. 15 We have no doubt this identification is 
correct, seeing that the Philistines then held possession of Bethlehem. Hence we are sur- 
prised to see that recent travellers suppose the Valley of Rephaim to be the same as that of 
Gihon on the west of Jerusalem. This mistake may have originated from some travellers 
misunderstanding the indications given to them ; supposing, probably, that their guides indi- 
cated that as the Valley of Rephaim, when they really intended to point out the commencement 
of that valley which now engages our attention. 

This valley is not deep. It might perhaps be more distinctive to describe it as a depressed 
plain, bounded on either hand by low hills. Its present appearance of fertility supports its 
ancient fame ; and in it are corn-fields, vineyards, olive-grounds, and orchards of various kinds 
of fruits. The interest of this valley arises from the certainty that it was often traversed and 
its natural features noted by some of the most venerable personages of the sacred history in 
their journeys from Jerusalem to Bethlehem or to Hebron. The road is replete with pilgrim 
curiosities of the usual description, in few of which the instructed mind will be much 
interested. First, about two miles from Jerusalem, we observe to the right a small eminence 
in which are the ruins of some large building which we are told was the house of the 
aged Simeon, who, in the Temple, took the infant Jesus in his arms. About midway between 
Jerusalem and Bethlehem was the largest and most lofty terebinth-tree which Rauwolff had 
ever seen. It was too conspicuous and noble an object not to be sanctified by some tradition; 
and, accordingly, we are told that beneath the shade which this tree offered, the Virgin Mary 
was wont to rest on her journeys between Bethlehem and Jerusalem ; and some marvellous 
instances are given of the respect and attention which the docile tree evinced. It was burnt 
down by the Arabs a few years after Rauwolff saw it, and an olive-tree afterwards supplied 
its place. c Six or seven hundred paces from this is a fine cistern, made apparently for watering 
the flocks pastured in the neighbouring campaigns. It is called the cistern of the kings, 
because, as the story runs, the Magi, while watering their camels here, saw anew the star 
which guided them to the obscure birth-place of Christ in Bethlehem. Near this is the 
monastery of St. Elias, where there is a rock on which we are told the prophet lay down to 
sleep when he fled from Jezebel, and on which he left the impress of his figure ! Another 
building in ruins, about 500 paces beyond, is announced as the house of the prophet Habakkuk, 

a The only estimate of its breadth we have met with is that of Morison, who calls it a league wide. But we see cause to think 
this much too high an estimate. Accuracy of measurements is not among the many great merits of Morison as a traveller. 

b 2 Sam. xxiii. 13; 1 Chron. xi. 15; xiv. 8-17; Isa. xvii. 5. Joseph. ' Antiq.' vii. 4. 

c Morison says that, when the old terebinth-tree was destroyed, many attempts were made to plant another of the same species, 
but without success, as none of the young terebinths could, with any care, be made to take root. But the olive-tree grew spon- 
taneously on the spot. 

r 2 


or, more likely, as Morison suggests, of a church built upon its alleged site. Not far from 
this is a cultivable ground, commonly called the Pea-field : it was formerly usual to find there 
a quantity of small rounded stones, in the form of chick-peas, concerning which we are told 
by a tradition, which Morison allows we are at liberty to admit or to reject, that a whole crop 
of this legume was turned to stone, because the churlish proprietor refused a handful to the 
Virgin Mary, and jeeringly told her they were not peas but stones. ( 2 ) In the same neigh- 
bourhood, a ruined tower, with some other buildings, upon a height, is pointed out as the 
tower of Edar or of Jacob ; and here also occurs Rachel's Sepulchre, which has been noticed 
in the historical portion of this work. a About 1200 paces from this is seen on the right 
hand a large and deep fosse of a round shape, which, as traditions tell, was dug to receive the 
bodies of Sennacherib's host, which was encamped in this valley when slain — all in one night 
— by the angel of the Lord. RauwolfF mentions another ditch, higher up the valley, 
employed for the same purpose, but the situation of which he does not clearly indicate. That 
great pits were dug on the occasion indicated is more than likely ; but they were dug to be 
filled again, and would not now be recognizable as ditches. Even sensible travellers have 
forgotten this. b 

We have enumerated the objects in the short route of two hours from Jerusalem to Beth- 
lehem, partly that the reader may have before him some specimens of the ample fare which 
was provided for the curiosity and enthusiasm of pilgrims to the Holy Land. 

At a short distance to the south of Bethlehem is a fine and rather extensive plain covered 
with rich pasture, where David, no doubt, often fed the flocks of his father. One part of this 
plain, enclosed by low hills planted with olive-trees and partly cultivated, is called the Shep- 
herds' Field, from a tradition that it was in this place the shepherds of Bethlehem were 
watching their flocks by night, when the angel proclaimed to them the " glad tidings " that in 
" the city of David" " a Saviour" had then been born; and where a multitude of " the 
heavenly host" exulted in the manifestation of glory to God, -peace to the earth, and good-will 
to man. 

About one hour's journey to the south of Bethlehem is a small valley which offers the tra- 
ditional and very probable site of one of Solomon's pleasure-grounds, where he made him 
" gardens, and orchards, and pools of water." The reservoirs at the south end of this valley, 
called the Pools of Solomon, still engage the attention of travellers, and will be duly noticed 
in a more suitable place. Below these runs another valley, narrow and rocky, about two 
miles in length, terminating in a close ravine. The mountains which enclose it are high, and 
run straight as palisades. The cultivable soil in the bottom of the valley varies in width, but 
rarely exceeds a hundred yards, and the rocks rise abruptly on either side. At something more 
than a quarter of a mile occurs the lower portion of a quadrangular building of coarse stone work, 
thirty feet by twenty-one, the walls of which are six feet thick, and a small pipe, three inches 
in diameter, passes out on the side next the pools ; but no other passage out can be discovered. 
A short distance beyond it the valley is set with fig-trees, vines, and olives, the proprietors of 
which inhabit a few huts on the left, where are also some ruined arches of stone. From the 
foot of the rock beneath these ruins issues a transparent spring, which, passing onward in a 
copious stream, winds through the valley, irrigating and fertilizing in its course, while the 
rock over its source is cut into various forms. 

This valley is supposed to have been the site of the gardens, and the enclosed fountain and 
spring to be those alluded to by Solomon in the text, " A garden enclosed is my sister, my 
spouse: a spring shut up, a fountain sealed." Hence the valley bears the name of Hart us 
Conclusus. Maundrell thinks the pools before referred to were very likely made by Solomon ; 
" but for the gardens," he says, " one may safely affirm that, if Solomon made them in the 
rocky ground which is now assigned for them, he demonstrated greater power and wealth in 

a Page 103. 

b Quaresm. Elucid. T. S. ii. 589-614; Rauwolff, 373; Furer, U; De Breves, 170; Zuallart, iii. 15; Cotovic, cap. 10; Nau, 
iv. 10; Morison, ii. 26; Maundrell, 86. 
c Solomon's Song, iv, 12. 


finishing his design than he did wisdom in choosing the place for it." But Hasselquist, a 
hetter judge, says, " The place will well admit that Solomon might have formed a garden 
here, though it is not hy nature an agreeable situation, being in a bottom ; but perhaps this 
great prince might choose to improve nature by art, as many other potentates have done." 
The fact is, that a valley kept always verdant by the singular abundance of water, afforded 
peculiar advantages in this country for a pleasure-ground. Mariti says, "Nature has still 
preserved its original fertility to the valley of Hortus Conclusus. Although but little culti- 
vated, the soil still produces a tolerable quantity of cotton and various kinds of grain. There 
are also seen fine plantations of fruit-trees, affording the most juicy fruits of the country. 
Various flowers and many fragrant plants grow there naturally at all seasons — among which 
are thyme, rosemary, marjorum, sage, absinthium, persil, rue, ranunculuses, and anemones." 
De Breves, long before, bore similar testimony, though he was there in the very unfavourable 
month of July : he describes the valley as "always green ;" and, besides the plants just named, 
cultivated by Nature's own kindly hand, he adds oranges, citrons, and pomegranates to the 
fruits which grow there. Zuallart says that several species of rare plants were found in the 
valley, and seems to insinuate the probability that they had been propagated from exotic 
plants which Solomon introduced into his gardens. a 

Having come so far in this line of road, we will follow it as far as Hebron, in order to 
reach the Valley of Mamre, near that town. From the Pools of Solomon to Hebron, the 
road lies over a succession of barren hills, between which we do not find any noticeable val- 
leys. The vicinity of Hebron renders the identification of the Vale of Mamre unquestionable. 
It has been slightly noticed in our history of the patriarchs, to whom it formed a favourite 
place of encampment, and which contained the sepulchre in which their bones lay. This 
broad and winding valley extends for some miles, and is bounded on all sides, and apparently 
shut in by stony mountains. The soil is good ; and offers much cultivation of the olive and 
the vine, while the uncultivated parts exhibit rich pastures. It contains a terebinth-tree, 
which is held in high honour by all the inhabitants of Hebron, especially by the Jews, in the 
belief that the tent of Abraham was shaded by its boughs. b 

The notice which has been taken of the valleys on the line of road between Jerusalem and 
Hebron will incidentally have the use of supplying points which will serve to indicate the 
bearings of such other valleys, to the east or west of this line, as may now require our at- 

We may now return to the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, and again walk southward from 
thence to explore the valleys which lie to the east or Avest of the central line to Hebron, which 
has now been described. The very important portion of Judah which lies between this cen- 
tral line and the coast has been very partially explored hitherto. Some travellers of the six- 
teenth and seventeenth centuries did indeed traverse it by tracks which have not been followed 
by later travellers, except in the instance of Professor Robinson and the Rev. Eli Smith, the 
results of whose researches have only as yet been communicated to the public in a very slight 

The only valley in this quarter to which the older travellers call attention, happens also to 
be the only one of which the Scripture takes notice. This is the Vale of Sorek, so cele- 
brated for its large clusters of fine grapes, and for the excellent wine which those grapes 
afforded. It is the channel of a winter-torrent, which commences behind the southern hills of 
that Wilderness of St. John which we lately noticed. From this, which is about five miles 
west of Jerusalem, the valley stretches about four miles in a direction south by west, after 
which it extends away westward to the coast, where the torrent which passes through it dis- 
charges its waters (when it has any) into the sea, below Ashdod. The whole of this course is 
about forty miles. This may explain the discrepancy between different travellers ; for, while 
some apply the name of the Vale of Sorek to this whole extent, others confine it to the shorter 

a Monro, ii 256; De Breves, 180 ; Zuallart, iv. 3; Nau, 444; Maundrell, 89; Mariti, ii. 388; Hasselquist, 145. 
b Elliot, ii. 499; Stephens, ii. 140; Lindsay, ii. 50. About the terebinth-tree of Mamre, see pp. 36, 51. 


commencing portion, before the westward turn is taken. It is only of this part that we have 
any satisfactory description. 

One principal reason of the interest which the old travellers took in this valley was from 
the belief that it was not only the valley of Sorek so celebrated for its wine grapes, but also 
that of Eshcol, from which the spies took the enormous vine cluster which they bore to Moses. a 
Or rather, they think the valley was named Sorek, and the brook which flowed through it 
Eshcol. As the valley from which the spies took the cluster of grapes derived its name from 
that circumstance, it might certainly have two names — its old one, and that which it thus ac- 
quired. Others have rather chosen to find the valley of Eshcol in that which contains the 
spring called the Fountain of St. Philip — at which the deacon of that name is supposed, but 
we imagine very erroneously, to have baptised the Ethiopian eunuch. This valley opens into 
that of Sorek, just at the point where the latter begins to bend decidedly westward. We have 
ourselves no very clear opinion about the situation of the Scriptural brook of Eshcol. Since 
one of Abraham's Amoritish friends, dwelling in the valley of Mamre, near Hebron, bore this 
name of Eshcol, it has generally of late years been concluded that the valley so called took 
its name from him, and is in fact only another name for the valley of Mamre. The testimony 
of Jerome, which is of great weight in such a question, is favourable to this opinion, as is 
also the southward situation of that valley . b But, on the other hand, the sacred text expressly 
says, not that the brook Eshcol was so called from any connection with the Amoritish chief, 
but that " the place was called the brook Eshcol because of the cluster of grapes which the 
children of Israel cut down from thence." But we may leave this question, and return to the 
valley of Sorek, c which might certainly claim to be regarded as that through which the brook 
of Eshcol flowed, if the great superiority of its wines might be taken as evidence in its 

Understood in the more limited sense which we have defined, the valley of Sorek is rather 
deep, and moderately broad. The mountains which enclose it on the west present only the 
appearance of scarped rocks. Those on the opposite side are lower, but covered with verdure. 
The valley is, or was down to recent times, cultivated unusually well — partly as arable land, 
and partly in vineyards, besides plantations of the fig-tree and the olive. The vines of this 
valley are still the finest, and the wine made from them the best in the Holy Land. The sup- 
position that this was the vale in which the spies " cut down a branch with one cluster of 
grapes, and bare it between them upon a staff," gives interest to the statement of Eugene 
Roger, that in the year 1633 he found here a cluster of white grapes weighing twenty-four 
French pounds ; d and he adds that it was quite ordinary to find them from six or eight to 
ten or twelve (French) pounds weight. Tiie wine made from these grapes was that which 
was supplied to visitors at the convent of St. John, and is declared by Morison and others to 
be one of the best in the Holy Land. It is a white wine ; and, says the traveller just named, 
" it was so delicate and so delicious, that, in tasting it, my conscience secretly reproached me 
for so badly imitating the great Baptist, who in this very place [the wilderness of St. John] 
abstained from all wine and strong drink. " e 

Seeing that the valley, which is thus noticed in its commencement, passes seaward at no 
great distance from Ask el on, it seems very possible that the wine which the Scriptures cele- 
brate as the " wine of Sorek " may be the same of which the classical ancients make honour- 
able mention as the wine of Askelon. The bed of the winter torrent, the commencing por- 
tion of which we have described, crosses at its other extremity the plain of the coast at be- 
tween four and five miles to the north of Askelon, and travellers pass it with little further re- 
mark than " We crossed a broad stone bridge, which was over the bed of a river, with stag- 
nant water in several places." This was in April. f 

B Num. xiii. 23, 24. b Epitaph. Paulae, fol. 59, G. H. 

c All the Scriptural encomiums on the vine and the wine of Sorek are lost to the English reader, through our translators having 
understood the word as an appellative rather than a proper name, and accordingly translated *' choice vine," " noble vine," as in 
Gen. xlix. 2; Isa. v. 2; Jer. ii. 21, &c. 

d Twenty-six lbs. 7 ozs. avoirdupois. e Luke i. 15. 

t Roger, 182; Morison, 492; Thevenot, 203; Quaresm. Elucid. T. S. ii. 696; Richardson, ii. 205. 


We shall now look to the valleys which lie between the Dead Sea and the centre of 

The Desert of St. Saba might be mentioned either among mountains or valleys. We place 
it here, among the latter, because the mountains which give it character form the sides of the 
valley or ravine, at the bottom of which the torrent of Kedron makes its way towards the 
Dead Sea. As Dr. Pococke's account of it involves an account of the valley of Kedron from 
Jerusalem to this place, we give it the preference. The older and later travellers usually 
visit it from Bethlehem. The route by the valley of Kedron offers, as might be expected, a 
more direct route to the Dead Sea than that by the plain of Jericho. 

" We went to the. south-east, along the deep and narrow valley in which the brook Kedron 
runs : it has high rocky hills on each side, which are shaped into terraces, and doubtless pro- 
duced formerly both corn and wine : some of them are cultivated even at this time .... About 
six miles from Jerusalem we ascended a hill to the south, from which we had a prospect of 
Zion, the Mount of Olives, and Bethlehem. We then went about an hour on the hills, and 
descending a little to the south, came to a lower ground, where we had the first view of St. 
Saba. Then turning east, in less than a mile we arrived at the convent, which is situated, in 
a very extraordinary manner, on the high rocks over the brook Kedron. There was a great 
number of grottoes about it, supposed to have been the retreats of hermits. The monastic 
and hermit's life was instituted here in the fourth century by St. Saba. They say that there 
have been 10,000 recluses here at one time, and some writers affirm that, in St. Saba's time, 
there were 14,000. The monks of the convent never eat flesh ; and they have such privileges 
that no Mohammedan can enter the convent, under penalty of paying 500 dollars to the 
mosque of the Temple of Solomon. St. John Damascenus, Euphemius, and the monk Cyril of 
Jerusalem, lived in this retirement, which is computed to be ecpially distant from Jerusalem, 
Bethlehem, and the Dead Sea; that is, about three hours from each of them." 

This learned traveller seems not to have been at the bottom of the valley, and consequently 
was not aware of the large and deep cavern at the foot of the mountain, in which rises a spring 
of water, said to have been miraculously produced by St. Saba for the benefit of the monastery 
which he founded. This place has not been much visited by the old Catholic pilgrims, be- 
cause the monastery is in the hands of the Greek " schismatics," nor by those of recent date, 
because it does not lie on any of the more frequented roads. 

The old travellers who visited St. Saba generally included what they called the Desert of 
Engeddi in their route. In a former inquiry after Engeddi we satisfied ourselves, by reasoning, 
that it must have lain nearer to the southern than to the northern extremity of the Dead Sea. a 
Yet we must confess that the accounts which we have since met with of the received Engeddi, 
show the name to have been so judiciously appropriated with reference to many circumstances 
of agreement with the scriptural notices of the place, that we are not sure we should have 
adhered to our former conclusion against it, were it not that Professor Robinson has since dis- 
covered the very name of Ain Jiddi as nearly as may be in the situation we indicated. But 
although travellers are thus shown to be wrong in the appropriation of the name of Engeddi to 
the locality which they describe, the place itself is a reality which requires ovir notice. 

Several of the travellers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have very satisfactory 
accounts of this place ; but that which Mr. Monro has given is better than any of them, and 
will be more acceptable to the reader : — 

" At one hour (east from Bethlehem) we reached the foot of the mountain, upon the eastern 
side of which the " Cave of Engeddi " is situated. The ascent is not difficult, although 
marked by no paths ; and the mountains are of the loftiest in the neighbourhood, presenting 
a strong and well-chosen " hold." Upon the summit are the foundations of a thick wall com- 
posed of large stones, enclosing a quadrangular space in which is a reservoir for water, and 
on the western side of it the ground is raised in a semicircular form. A cistern, no doubt, has 
existed here from the earliest times, at which the flocks were wont to be watered, and which 
gave the name to the place, since Engeddi in Hebrew signifies the kid's fountain. The cave 

a ' Pictorial Bible,' note on 1 Sam. xxiv. 1. 


a little below its summit had its entrance, four and a half feet high, and somewhat wider, care- 
fully closed with stones by the Arabs previous to their retiring to the desert. 

" Having pulled down the wall, I found the length of the interior to be about sixty feet, and 
the guide said that its depth was nearly the same ; but the back part was so entirely filled up 
with chaff, that not more than twenty-five feet were left vacant. In the highest part it was 
eight feet, but in most places less than five. Although a natural cavern, it seems to have had 
its surface smoothed by cutting. This mountain stands upon the border of the desert, com- 
manding a view of the Dead Sea to the south-east. 

" That the spot is entitled to the name it bears appears probable from the coincidence of its 
physical circumstances with the scriptural narration of the transaction with which it is con- 
nected^ ' Saul came to the sheep-cotes by the way, where was a cave.' This could not 
have been actually in the wilderness, where is no vegetation. 13 Besides which, he was on the 
way thither, he had not yet reached it. It is remarkable that the nature of the ground is pre- 
cisely the same at the present day. While the neighbouring district on three sides is arable, 
this mountain, situated within a mile of the wilderness, is covered with grass ; and near the 
top of it are caves with small stone enclosures in front, serving as pens or ' sheep-cotes' for 
the flocks. Near the cave itself a flock of sheep and goats were feeding."* 1 

Separately from any question about Engeddi, this is one interesting specimen of the numerous 
grottoes in Palestine. That which has been described is not the only one in the neighbour- 
hood. It is the principal of them ; but there are many others which, like this, serve as retreats 
to the Arabs and to the flocks which they feed. 

As Mr. Monro's account is rather limited, it is proper to observe that what the old travellers 
understood as the desert of Engeddi is a district of some extent, rendered agreeable by the 
diversified aspect of its mountains, and by the richness of its well-watered valleys. The scrip- 
tural Engeddi was celebrated for its vineyards.* 5 The place now described has no such celebrity. 
The hills and valleys are entirely uncultivated ; and only some wild olives and other trees are 
now seen. f 

In taking a view of the country to the south of Hebron down to the borders of the desert, we 
must avail ourselves exclusively of the most recent authorities. The information we have 
lately acquired concerning this very interesting portion of Palestine is one of the benefits which 
we have incidentally derived from the discovery of Petra by Burckhardt. Before that time, 
those travellers whose views embraced Egypt and Sinai as well as Palestine, proceeded first to 
Cairo, then went to Sinai, and returned to Cairo, after which they either took the caravan 
route from Cairo to Gaza, or else proceeded to the coast and embarked for Jaffa. But when 
Petra had attracted attention, and travellers in visiting that place from Akaba were already 
more than half way to Palestine, it began to be felt absurd to return to Egypt in order to pro- 
ceed from thence to the Holy Land. Mr. Stephens, followed by Lord Lindsay, struck boldly 
across from Petra, through the desert and the south of Judea to Hebron; and the practicability 
of the route being thus established, travellers already in Palestine have not hesitated to proceed 
from Hebron to Petra. This has been done by Count de Bertou and Professor Robinson. The 
latter gentleman, with his companion Mr. Smith, also explored another tract of this interesting 
district in travelling strait from Akaba to Hebron, across the desert which intervenes between 
Sinai and Palestine, and through the southernmost portion of the latter country. He was not, 
however, as he supposes, the first modern traveller to cross this desert. Mr. Arundale had 
some years before (in 1833) crossed its entire length in the journey which he made direct 
from Sinai to Gaza, without turning aside to Akaba on the one hand or to Suez on the other. 
But, unhappily, this gentleman does not appear from his book to have been aware that he was 
pursuing a route which is not known to have been for ages travelled by European feet ; and 
hence, his particular attention not being excited, his information conveys little instruction to us. 

It may be useful to state the routes or parts of routes which are peculiar or common to the 

a 1 Sam. xxiv. 
b This is not true, whether taken as a general or, with reference to the present case, a particular observation. 
c What wilderness? a Monro, ii. 259-261. * Sol. Song, i. 14. f Morison, 489 ; Nau, 446. 


several travellers we have named, as enabling the reader to enter the better into those passages 
in which their authority is adduced. 

The route of Mr. Stephens and of Lord Lindsay was the same all the way from Sinai to 
Hebron. The return journey of Count de Bertou, from Akaba to Hebron by Petra, was also 
the same as theirs between the same points. 

The route of Count de Bertou from Hebron to Akaba is two-thirds of it new. Its com- 
mencing portion, from Hebron to the end of the Dead Sea, coincides partly with the pre- 
ceding route, and wholly with that of Irby and Mangles, and Dr. Robinson, who regrets that 
M. de Bertou had anticipated him, by three or four weeks, on this route, not knowing that 
both were anticipated twenty years ago by Irby and Mangles, and before them by Seetzen ; 
while its terminating portion, on the approach to Akaba, is twenty-five miles, included in the 
usual route from Akaba to Petra. 

Although Dr. Robinson was not the first to cross the desert of El Tyh, his route across it, 
from Akaba to Hebron, is new, with the exception of about eighteen miles between the points 
where Mr. Arundale's route from Sinai joined this, and afterwards left it to proceed to Gaza. 
All Mr. Arundale's route from Sinai to Gaza is new, with the same exception which has just 
been stated, and in which his route coincided with that of Dr. Robinson. 

Departing from Hebron, we will trace such particulars, on these several lines of route, as 
come within the scope of our present chapter. We shall, however, stop when we reach the 
skirts of the desert; which, as it happens, coincides, as nearly as possible, with the line which 
we gave to the southern border of Palestine. The desert beyond, we reserve for the general 
notice with which this chapter will terminate. 

Our first route traverses the heart of the southward country, from Hebron to Wady Ruhei- 
beh, through which Professor Robinson is our sole guide. But, for the sake of uniformity, 
we reverse the direction which he took, which was to Hebron not from it. 

The valley of Mamre has already been noticed, as well as the claim which it offers to be 
regarded as the Scriptural Eshcol. This claim is supported by the generally fertile character 
of the district about and immediately to the south of Hebron. " We could not but notice," 
says our guide, " the fertility of the surrounding valleys, full of fields of grain, and of vine- 
yards, yielding the finest and largest clusters of all Palestine. Yet, to a careless observer, the 
country in general can only appear steril ; for the limestone rocks everywhere come out upon 
the surface, and are strewn over it in large masses, to such a degree that a more stony or 
rocky region is rarely to be seen." 

This sort of country, but with diminishing cultivation, continues about twenty miles, when 
the hill country of Judea terminates, and we have before us a wide open plain, covered with 
grass, and where fields of wheat and barley are seen all around. It was probably for the sake 
of the pastures, by this and other plains and valleys in this quarter, that so much preference 
was given to it by the Hebrew patriarchs. Indeed, this present plain extends southward to 
the borders of the Wady es-Seba, on which, at the point where the road crosses, Dr. Robinson 
had the happiness to discover the site of the patriarchal Beersheba, as mentioned in a preced- 
ing page (90). Beyond this, the hills are higher than travellers coming from the south have seen 
since leaving the Sinai peninsula. Beyond these higher hills extends for many miles an 
" open rolling country :" all around are swelling hills covered, in ordinary seasons, with grass 
and rich pasturage. After this the character of the country becomes changed to that of an 
elevated plateau ; and beyond it another plateau [of lower level, we presume] extends all the 
way to our limit, Wady Ruheibeh. This is called, by Professor Robinson, " a fine plain, 
covered with grass, and herbs, and bushes ; in crossing which our ears were regaled with the 
carols of the lark and the song of the nightingale, all indicating our approach [coming from 
the south] to a more fertile region." The learned traveller also remarks that the Arabic 
name Ruheibeh may suggest the Rehoboth of Scripture— the name of one of Isaac's wells; 
but, as he also observes, other circumstances do not correspond. 

These facts are important and interesting, as showing the existence of a large tract of natur- 
ally fine country, partly cultivable, and everywhere abounding in rich pastures. This must 
vol. i. s 


have been a valuable part of the Hebrew territory ; but the greater part of it was either not 
assigned to the Hebrews at all, or set down only as so much unprofitable desert, until we were 
enabled by analogy to estimate its true value, and to assign to it a character similar to that 
which actual observation has since shown it to bear. 

Now, returning to Hebron, we will travel from thence, south by east, to the borders of 
Wady Araba. Count de Bertou must be our chief guide ; for, although Mr. Stephens and 
Lord Lindsay have some important observations, there is, as usual, a want of that precision 
which gives value to the remarks of a man of science, and in the absence of which it is often 
difficult to allocate observations entitled, in themselves, to much consideration. 

As the travellers whom we have named all advanced towards Hebron northward from 
Wady Araba, it may be well to give the same direction to the statement collected from their 

As the point at which they left the Wady Araba is too far southward, we will take a point 
on this route nearly on the same line with the Wady Ruheibeh of the more western route, and 
distant forty-four miles therefrom. Let this be Wady el Kofeikifeh, which is about eighteen 
miles from the point at which we leave the Wady Araba. 

For some miles above and below this point, a range of low hills, bearing the same name, 
intervene between Wady Araba and the road which we traverse. 

Before reaching the point where the roads to Hebron and Gaza diverge, we pass, about 
three miles to the left, an isolated small hill, named by the guides Kadeseh, or El Madaruh, a 
remarkable name, which suggests to Count de Bertou whether it may not be the Kadesh of 
the Scriptures. This must be the same site which Lord Lindsay writes so differently as 
Hussaya Ulmedurra, and calls it a chalk hill ; reporting also the Bedouin tradition that 
under it God crushed a guilty village. A little way beyond this brings us to the foot of Jebel 
Yamen (Right Hand Mountain), a range of hills which forms the termination (or, in our 
direction, the beginning) of the mountains of Judea in this quarter. These we enter by a deep 
defile called Wady Fukreh, a the mural hills on either side rising from 150 to 200 feet. On 
reaching the end of this valley or gorge, a steep ascent is commenced, up mountains about 
1000 feet high, winding by a very rough track through a wild and rocky defile. On reaching 
the summit a slight descent brings us upon an elevated plain, called Atreibi, b the surface of 
which is composed of heavy sand, with the usual plants of the desert, — " but still," says Lord 
Lindsay, " a garden compared with the waste we had recently traversed." In fact, traces of 
something more than desert vegetation begin to appear as we advance into the plain ; and 
beyond Wady Kurnib c the country assumes the appearance of a down rather than a desert, 
being thickly covered with grass and shrubs. 

Travellers march on for six hours from Wady Kurnib without finding much to engage 
their attention. Then they reach a place called El Melek, d which is described as being situ- 
ated in a very extensive plain, called El Foura. Here Lord Lindsay's party " were surprised 
at finding two large and deep wells, beautifully built of hewn stone : the uppermost course, 
and about a dozen troughs for watering cattle disposed round them, of a coarse white marble : 
they were evidently coeval with the Romans. Quite a patriarchal scene presented itself as we 
drew near to the wells. The Bedouins were watering their flocks, — two men at each well 
letting down the skins, and pulling them up again with almost ferocious haste, and with quick 
savage shouts, and then emptying them into the troughs : the sheperdesses stood aloof, and 
veiled their faces, seeing the strange howagis. The several flocks, coming up and retiring in 
the exactest order, were a beautiful sight." 

The same neighbourhood gives M. de Bertou occasion to remark, — " In summer each 

a Lord Lindsay must have misunderstood his guides. He supposed they were telling him the name of the mountains, when 
they actually told him the valley ; for this word is doubtless that which he represents by Jebel Asufar. These and other differences 
of orthography which we have occasionally to notice — and which are sometimes very amusing — may serve to indicate to the reader 
a circumstance by which geographical inquiry and comparison are ofteu grievously perplexed. 

b By Lord Lindsay. M. de Bertou, whose names are more trustworthy, does not name it. 

c Lord Lindsay has it Kournou. 

d So Lord Lindsay. The place El Milh, incidentally named by M. de Bertou, is, doubtless, the same. 


camp seeks out fresh pasturage for its flocks and herds, which forcibly recalled to my mind 
that Esau and Jacob separated from each other for the same purpose. At every step in this 
country one finds a striking resemblance between the account given in the Bible of the pa- 
triarchs of old and the manners and customs of its present inhabitants — nothing ha.s 


A range of stony hills, called Jebel el Gheretain, a bound the plain of El Foura on the 
north ; and, these being passed, numerous ruined garden-walls and terraces warn us of our 
entry among the ancient cultivation of Judea. As we proceed, we observe occasional patches 
of ground reclaimed from the desert, and under actual cultivation ; and, ere long, the whole 
valley below us becomes green with corn, field descending below field, divided by regular 
terraces. This cultivation belongs to the village of Semuah. b This is but ten miles from 
Hebron ; and all the way we ride through fields of corn, between rounded hills, which are 
covered to their very tops with bushes of the prickly oak. 

One general observation results from the brief survey of the two last routes, which is, that 
cultivation and pasturage cease the soonest on the south-eastern route, being that to the extre- 
mity of the Dead Sea and to the Wady Araba. c 

In stating the observations made by M. de Bertou in his southward route from Hebron to 
Akaba, we took up that route as it entered the Ghor at the southern extremity of the Dead 
Sea, omitting the details which he gives of his route from Hebron to that point. Part of that 
route coincides with that which has just engaged our attention. But, coming from Hebron, 
the route in question leaves this at about El Melek, and strikes off east-south-east to the end 
of the Dead Sea. The distance does not exceed twenty miles ; but is of very striking in- 

The journey lies, at first, over an undulating plain, with the grass dried up (in April) for 
want of water. Proceeding, a glimpse of the Dead Sea is first obtained at the outlet of a deep 
valley on the left. The ground soon begins to descend rapidly, and is covered with salt, and 
occasionally flints, presenting an aspect of the most complete desolation. When we have 
made half our way, the road takes a more easterly direction, following the dry bed of a tor- 
rent, which in winter discharges its stream into the back-water of the lake, near its extre- 
mity. This torrent bed is called Wady Zoarah. d As we advance in this valley, tamarisks 
and acacias become abundant, and a fine view of the Arabian mountains opens in the distance ; 
and, ultimately, at the foot of the descent, the waters of the Wady Zoarah spread out over a 
plain, which is called by the Arabs El Nqfileh, e from the quantity of shrubs of that name with 
which it is covered. In this plain the route continues for a short distance parallel to the lake, 
and within 500 yards of its shore, till we reach the Ghor, or plain to the south of the Dead 
Sea, at which point we took up the route on a former occasion, and therefore leave it now. 

Seeing that we were disposed to look for the cave of Engeddi in this quarter, it is interest- 
ing to find here quite as remarkable a cave as that, towards the other extremity of the lake, to 
which the name has long been assigned. M. de Bertou, passing along this plain, with the 
Dead Sea on his left, and the hills from which he had descended on his right, says, — " In 
the limestone hills on our right is a grotto named Magharat Esdiim (Sadum), whence gushes 
a salt stream. The Arabs say that the cave may be followed for some miles." 

The tract which has thus briefly been characterised, together with the salt plain south of the 
Asphaltic Lake, forms the scene of which M. de Bertou speaks in these memorable words, which 
we can neither omit nor abridge : — 

" In attempting to describe the scenes which we had yesterday beheld, I feel the utter in- 

a Lindsay. Not named by De Bertou. 

b De Bertou. Lord Lindsay says " Simoa or Simoo ;" .and thinks it maybe the Shema enumerated among the towns in Judea in 
Josh. xv. 26. 

c The above particulars are mostly drawn from M. de Bcrtou's paper in vol. ix. pt. ii. of the ' Geog. Journal,' and from Lord 
Lindsay's ' Letters.' It has been found impossible to make any use of Mr. Stephens' facts, on account of the entire want of names, 
and his neglect of stating time and distance. 

d The editor of the ' Geog. Journal' thinks this should, perhaps, be written Zoweirah, and warns us that the name has uo rela- 
tion to the Scriptural Zoar. 

e This seems to be either Medicago intertexta or Medicago Arabica ; we are not sure which. 

s 2 


adequacy of words to express my feelings. I had wandered through the Alps, the Pyrenees, 
and many other mountains, — I had seen countries blasted by the curse of the Almighty, the 
plains of Moab, and the land of Amnion, — but had seen nothing to compare with the moun- 
tains of Zoarah and Esdum. Here is desolation on the grandest scale, and beyond what the 
imagination of man could conceive ; it must be seen — to describe it is impossible. In this 
striking and solemn waste, where Nature is alike destitute of vegetation and of inhabitants, 
man appears but an atom ; — all around is enveloped in the silence of death, — not a bird, not 
even an insect is seen ! The regular step of our camels returned a dull sound, as if the earth 
were hollowed beneath our feet : the monotonous chant of the camel-driver accompanied at 
times the step of this inhabitant of the desert, but was suddenly stopped, as if he feared to 
awaken nature. The sun concealed itself by thick clouds, and seemed unwilling to shine 
upon the land cursed by the Almighty. We saw the traces of several wolves. Everything 
seemed to combine to make the landscape awfully sublime." 

We now proceed to notice such characteristics of the country east of the river Jordan and 
its lakes as the object of this chapter will allow it to embrace. But, seeing that particular 
spots in this important part of the country are less aggrandised by historical or sacred associa- 
tions than those on the western side of the river, a much less detailed survey may be sufficient: 
and, perhaps, the view which we can afford to take may be best exhibited in the form of a 
statement of the prominent characteristics of the several districts of which this region is com- 

These are the districts of Argob and Bashan, of Giiead, of the land of Moab, of the land of 
the Ammonites, and of the Haouran. 

Argob and Bashan are allied districts, which may be placed together, as they usually are 
in Scripture, in which they are celebrated for their oaks and their cattle. The "bulls of 
Bashan" was indeed a proverbial expression for cattle in their best and proudest condition. 
This, of course, implies the excellence of its pastures. 

We shall understand that Argob and Bashan embraced the northernmost portion of the 
trans-Jordanic country, from the spurs of Mount Hermon to the river Jarmouk, a few miles 
south of the lake of Gennesareth. It is, indeed, possible that the district may have extended 
somewhat to the south of this border ; but, as the precise limits of this and the other provinces 
are uncertain, it seems best to assume the most marked geographical boundary which can be 
found at some point which cannot be far from the truth. 

By Argob, as distinct from Bashan, though it was probably only a district of Bashan, we 
shall understand the strip of country which extends along the eastern border of the Lake of 
Gennesareth, and perhaps beyond it northward. 

This country has been explored by Burckhardt, Major Skinner, Elliot, Baron Taylor, and 
others. Burckhardt traversed both the northern and southern route through this country, 
on the roads to Damascus. The first of these routes crosses the Jordan at Jacob's Bridge, 
and proceeds, by way of Kanneytra and Sasa, to the plain of Damascus. Major Skinner 
and Baron Taylor went from the Jordan to Damascus, and Burckhardt and Elliot from 
Damascus to the Jordan, by this route. The other route leads from Feik, a town near the 
south-eastern extremity of the Lake of Gennesareth, and proceeds to the plain of Damascus by 
way of Nowa and Tel Shakab. This has been travelled by Burckhardt only. 

We have already found more than one occasion to intimate that the whole country east of 
the Jordan is elevated far above the level of that river, insomuch that the high mountains 
which rise before one who approaches from the west, offer but slight descents into the eastern 
plains when their summits are reached. 

The chain of Jebel Heish a comes down from the Great Hermon, through about twenty-five 
miles of the tract which is now under our notice. The higher road passes over this chain, 
near the middle part ; while the lower road passes about seven miles south from its termi- 

nating eminence of Tel Faras. 

See before, p. xli. 

Chap. V.] 



fJJ'V **x-— 

[Jacob's Bridge. (_ 3 )] 

These hills are of very moderate elevation when we draw near them, although their positive 
height ahove the valley of the Jordan on the one hand, and ahove the plains of Jolan and 
Damascus on the other, makes them most conspicuous in the distance. The road has a 
gradual ascent to them in both directions. These hills are bordered by a stony district, which 
is about three miles broad, and in some directions more. The oaks, for which the country 
was so highly celebrated, make their appearance a few miles after we leave the valley of the 
Jordan. a They are of the dwarf kind, and in this quarter their branches have, to a very great 
extent, been lopped off, and carried away for fuel. After passing the hills, the country 
becomes flatter and more plentifully wooded. The soil is richer, cultivable, and, to a consi- 
derable extent, cultivated. As we advance to the river Meghannye the trees increase, and the 
country becomes a forest ; but beyond that river, we soon enter a stony plain, which continues 
to the fertile plain of Damascus. The river, or the border of this stony desert, probably 
formed the northern limit of Bashan, and, consequently, of the territory of Manasseh beyond 

The general pasturage of this tract is very good, and wherever there are streams the soil 
is covered with the most luxuriant herbage and grass of the brightest green. The sites of the 
villages are marked by clumps of poplars and olive-trees. But in this region villages are 
few and far between; and, says Major Skinner, " it is desolate to pass over so rich a country 
for many hours without seeing a habitation." 

In the southern part of the country, which the mountains of Heish do not intersect, the 
plain is more even and open. It also appears to be less wooded — at least the presence of 
wood is less noticed, until near the southernmost border at the river Jarmouk. For eighteen 
or twenty miles east of the hills which bound the Lake of Gennesareth, the plain is wholly 
uncultivated, but is overgrown with a wild herb called khob, on which camels and oxen feed 
with pleasure — even in this circumstance agreeing with the ancient character of the country. 
The tract thus characterised must have included Argob. The soil is black or gray ; but, at 
the distance eastward which we have indicated, the soil changes to the red colour of the earth 

By which we mean, as always when speaking largely, the general channel of the Jordan and its lakes, 


of the Haouran plains ; and, as if this soil were more cultivahle, as it prohably is, cultivation 
commences with this change. The neighbourhood of Tzeil, where, on the route, this change 
first appears, offers also the first traces of cultivation. Beyond this the greater part of the 
plain is, in the season, covered with fine crops of wheat and barley ; but in about fifteen miles 
more the plain becomes badly cultivated, and, finally, we enter upon the first stony, and then 
rocky district, which bounds this district upon the north and east. a 

Gilead. — The precise limits of the land of Gilead cannot be clearly defined on any data 
which the Scriptures offer. We know that it lay south of Bashan, and north of Moab ; but, 
although from this we know well enough, in a general way, the situation of the district, we 
are not thereby assisted to the knowledge of its precise limits, as the boundaries of Bashan 
and of Moab are as uncertain as those of Gilead. The best course, therefore, seems to be, as 
before, to assume marked geographical limits, which shall certainly include the whole or 
greater part of the country, without undertaking to say that the true limits may not have 
extended beyond, or fallen within, those which we adopt. In the present instance this is the 
more obvious course, as the name Gilead seems to have been always rather loosely applied, 
and never described a political division of the country. We shall, for these reasons, consider 
the name of Gilead as applicable to the fine hilly country embraced between the river Jarmouk 
on the north, and the river Jabbok on the south. We are quite aware that the current 
authorities — Adrichomius, Quaresmius, Calmet, and Wells — affirm that Bashan extended, 
southward, to the river Jabbok. There is no authority in Scripture for this assertion ; but it 
so happens that this statement would have been nearly true if the Jabbok had really been 
placed as they lay it down : for, without confounding the Jabbok with the Jarmouk, but by 
misplacing both, they make the Jabbok either flow into the Lake of Gennesareth ! or into the 
Jordan, a few miles below its southern extremity — in fact, nearly where the Jarmouk ought to 
bave been placed. Consequently, their southern frontier of Bashan, and northern of Gilead, 
coincides, in fact, — though in terms far from doing so, — with that which we have chosen. As 
the old writers knew absolutely nothing of the country beyond Jordan, their mistakes are 
excusable, and we should not have deemed it worth while to notice the matter, were it not 
that some, and those not the least intelligent, recent travellers, 11 adopt the modern conclusion 
that the Jabbok (being the Zerka) is forty or fifty miles south of the position formerly assigned 
it, and yet retain the old conclusion that Bashan extended to the Jabbok, whereby they make 
that district disproportionately large, at the expense of leaving no suitable room for Gilead, 
and, in fact, include under the name of Bashan the district to which the name of Gilead 
properly belongs. 

The land of Gilead is more mountainous, and more diversified by hill and dale, than 
Bashan to the north, or than the land of Moab to the south. In the more southern part the 
mounts are of considerable height. In the northern part this district is the least interesting; 
in the central and eastern parts it is the most picturesque ; and the southern the most grand. 
But, although the northern part is a dull, uninteresting country, with little wood and less 
beauty, the soil is very rich, and amply repays the labour of the husbandman. On the southern 
border there is nearly an equal want of wood, and the soil seems less productive ; but a 
compensation is offered to the traveller in the striking character of the scenery which the 
mountains offer. 

Advancing from the north, or north-west, to the south, or to the east, trees begin to appear, 
and soon thicken into clumps, and woods, and forests, The roads are beautiful, winding over 
hills, and through vales, or narrow rocky ravines, overhung with valonidi oak, which is the 

a The above account of Argob and Bashan offers a digested comparison of the numerous particular observations in Burckhardt, 
Skinner, and Elliot.— Burckhardt, 281-284; 312-315; Skinner, i. 301-319 ; Elliot, ii. 317-327. 

b Lord Lindsay, for instance. Of the writers on Biblical geography, the acute and judicious Reland is the only one who acted 
well in this matter. Distrusting the northernly position previously given to the river Jabbok, and yet knowing nothin" clearly 
about it, he omits it in all his maps, while the principal rivers, which he does insert, the Jarmouk (Hieromax) and Arnon, are 
first placed by him correctly — indeed, with wonderful correctness, considering the imperfection of his data. See particularly his 
map, ' Facies Palaestinae,' and his short chapter (xliv. of lib. i.) ' De Fluminibus Terra TransjordanicaV in his admirable 
work, ' PaUestina ex Monumentis Veteribus Illustrata.' — Traj. Bat. 1714. 

Chap. V.] 



characteristic tree of this region, and which is the last to disappear in the least wooded parts. 
But there are many other fine trees, the names of which travellers do not specify. The beds 
of the streams and winter-torrents are everywhere full of the most superb oleanders. 

The grandest part of the country is the most mountainous — about Jebel Adjeloun. Corn- 
fields appear in favourable situations. The valonidi, the prickly-oak, and the olive-tree 
invest the lower summits, or appear tufted among the crags. After a long ascent these 
disappear, saving the prickly-oak ; but the arbutus, the fir, and the ash succeed them ; and a 
larger-leaved species of valonidi supplies the place of that which we have lost. Even the 
noble crags which form the summits of these mountains are almost hidden among beautiful 
trees. The fir-trees of the utmost heights are very noble. 

One of the finest and broadest valleys of Gilead is that near El Hosn, which Lord Lindsay 
thus describes : — 

" A beautiful narrow glen ushered us into a broad valley, richly wooded to the summits of 
the hills with noble prickly-oaks, a few pine-trees towering over them. I never should have 
thought that the shrub which I had seen covering the hills at Hebron could have attained 
such size and beauty : yet the leaf of the largest tree is not larger than the shrubs. I saw an 
occasional dcgub tree, or arbutus, but the prevailing trees were oaks, prickly and broad-leafed : 
it was forest scenery of the noblest character — next to that of Old England, with which none I 
ever saw can stand comparison. " a 

[View in the Laud of Moab.] 

The Land of Moab. — In fixing the northern border of this land at the river Jabbok, we 
are influenced chiefly by the desire to avoid minute subdivisions in a cursory survey like that 
on which we are now engaged. In this we imitate the Scripture, which, when it speaks 
largely and generally, appears to give the same extent to the land of Moab. The fact is, that 
all this territory was once occupied by the Moabites; but the northern part — nearest the 
Jabbok — was taken from them by the Amorites, and erected into an independent kingdom. 
In the possession of this people the Israelites found it when they marched from the desert 

" The above general account of Gilead has been drawn up from the various particulars dispersed in Lord Lindsay's large 
account (ii. 99, 101, 109, 120, 124-126, 142), with the help of ideas previously derived from Burckhardt, Buckingham, and Irby 
and Mangles. 


towards the Jordan ; and when it fell to them, by their victory over Sihon the Amoritish king, 
they bestowed it upon the tribes of Reuben and Gad. But the children of Lot always remem- 
bered that this land had been originally theirs ; and in the time of Jephthah made a formal 
demand for its restitution, and a battle was the consequence of a refusal. It is, therefore, 
admissible to call the whole of the country, from the Jabbok southward to the borders of 
Edom, the land of Moab, when we require a larger and more comprehensive name than the 
minute subdivisions of political geography will, in this quarter, supply. 

Notwithstanding that we have formerly fixed the southern limit at the Jabbok, we have, on 
more than one occasion, 51 expressed our willingness to include under that denomination the 
mountains which lie immediately to the south of that river. We have no difficulty in this ; 
for, regarding Gilead as a loose general name for the more hilly part of the country beyond 
Jordan, and, as such, unrestricted by political divisions, there is no reason why the denomi- 
nation should not be extended into the land of Moab. 

The mountains south of the Jabbok have been already noticed in this work (p. xli.) ; and, 
in fact, the account there given of the country is a summary of all the information we possess, 
and shall be able to add but little to it in this place. 

The views among the mountains on the south of the Zerka are, perhaps, less magnificent, 
but to the full as beautiful as in those to the north of that river. Lord Lindsay thinks he 
could distinguish three stages in these mountains, — the upper, chiefly productive of the prickly- 
oak and arbutus, — the central, of prickly-oak, arbutus, and fir, — while the lower slopes, 
particularly to the northward, are invested with the prickly-oak and the valonidis. This 
traveller draws a glowing picture of the beauty of the northward slopes. The descending 
paths wind through thickets of the most luxurious growth, and of every shade of verdure, 
frequently overshadowing the road, and diffusing a delicious coolness, though a delightful 
breeze, blowing freshly over the slopes, so allays the heat that it is never oppressive. In this 
most pleasant region the ear is also regaled with notes of happiness from the tenants of the 
thickets and the woods — " the cooing of the wood-pigeons, the calling of partridges — magnifi- 
cent birds, as large as pheasants, — the incessant hum of insects, and hiss of grasshoppers, 
singing in the trees as happy as kings." 

We will not allow ourselves to speak further of the mountains of this country. But of the 
plains and valleys, generally, it may be observed that the soil is exuberantly fertile, and, in the 
small portions which are cultivated, affords rich returns to the cultivator. It seems, in fact, 
that the wheat grown in this region, the size of the grains, and the number of grains in the 
ear, far exceed what is common. The country also abounds in rich pastures ; which is true, 
indeed, of almost all the country east of the Jordan, whence it is now, in its desolate condition, 
much resorted to by the Bedouins with their flocks. And in the time of Moses it was so 
eminently "a land for cattle," that the tribes of Reuben and Gad, who "had much cattle," 
sought and obtained (with the addition of the half-tribe of Manasseh) to have it assigned to 
them expressly on that account. 11 

The population of the land of Moab, in particular, was fully equal to its fertility, as is evinced 
by the numerous sites of ancient towns which occur on every eminence or spot convenient for 
their construction. The valleys through which streams flow at any time of the year, are 
generally beautifully wooded. We have no room to describe particular valleys or plains. A 
few of the more elevated plains are very stony, many are covered with a fine grassy turf, and 
some are so thickly wooded as to take the character of forests. The appearances of spon- 
taneous fertility considerably decline as we advance southward, and the scenery takes a less 
pleasing aspect. We pass tracts of chalky soil covered with flints. On the south-east the 
prolific mould gives place to a sort of clayey and stony soil ; while the desert sands encroach 
on the south, and on the south-west the salt of Sodom intrudes, and covers the neighbouring 
tracts with unmitigated desolation. 

a 'Pictorial Bible,' note on Gen. xxxi. 25., and p. xli. of this work. b Num. xxxii. 

e Mure particular information concerning this country than we are able to give may be found in Burckhardt, Sectzen.Irby 
and Mangles, Buckingham (' Arab Tribes '), and Lord Lindsay. 


We have now to turn our attention to the Haouran. The boundaries and mineralogical 
character of this district have been indicated in a preceding page (lxxxiii). This ex- 
tensive plain has the countries of Bashan and Gilead on the west, and on the east the moun- 
tains and rocky tracts which form the boundary of the Great Syrian Desert. The northern 
part of it was probably included under the denomination of Bashan ; and the whole may be 
concluded to have been at one time in the occupation of the tribe of Manasseh, if Gad had 
not also a share of it. 

In its general character, the plain of Haouran resembles that of the Belka in the land of 
Moab, and of Esdraelon in Galilee, in having gentle undulations, the same level being nowhere 
of long continuation, although still not so much above or below each other as to destroy its 
general character, as an irregular undulating plain, the whole surface of which offers nothing 
that deserves to be called a hill. a The eminences that here and there break its continuity, 
are mostly small veins of rock projecting above the surface, and these appear to have been in 
all cases selected for the sites of towns, for the sake of securing a commanding position, a 
freer air, a dryer soil, and convenient access to the materials of building, which are, indeed, 
thus close at hand. 

The soil is excellent for corn, whence the plain seems to have been in all ages regarded as 
the granary of Syria. It still supports that character ; although now great part of it lies 
fallow for want of the cultivating hand, and teems only with wild flowers, " It must have 
been," as Robinson observes, " an agreeable and imposing prospect, indeed, to those who 
looked down upon its rich productions, at the time when the whole was brought under culture 
by the numerous and industrious Roman colonies that once inhabited these territories — its 
golden crops bending submissively under the breezes that crossed its surface, like the smooth 
undulations of the wide ocean, and, like it, having no other boundary than the horizon 

There are few springs in this district : but water is here indispensable to cultivation with 
the best possible soil ; and hence the population of the Haouran owes its means of existence, 
and the success of its agriculture, to the numerous winter-torrents descending from the eastern 
mountains of Jebel Haouran, which traverse the plain. Few of these inundate the land; 
but the inhabitants make the best use of the water to irrigate the fields after the great rains 
have ceased. It is from these wadys that the numerous reservoirs are filled, which supply 
both men and cattle with water till the return of the rainy season. In all this plain, as in 
every other district, on both sides of the Jordan, where there are no springs, the cultivation 
follows the course of these winter-torrents, as in Egypt it follows the course of the Nile. The 
only, or by far the chief, evil to which the cultivator is here exposed, is a season of deficient 
rain ; and, under severe drought, not only the harvests, but the rich pastures of the unculti- 
vated parts, utterly dry up and wither. The whole of this country seems a desert in the 
maps ; but it is, in fact, full of villages — more villages than there are people to occupy. 
These are ancient villages, apparently built when the country was rich and populous under 
the Romans, — not in ruins, but in a perfectly habitable condition, and to some extent inhabited. 
This is owing to the extraordinary durability of the buildings, which are entirely of stone — 
even to the doors b and door-posts, without the least portion of wood or other perishable 
material. This mode of construction, while it arose, in the first instance, from the want of 
wood — as there are no timber- trees, or hardly any trees in all the plain — has ensured, in a 
remarkable degree, the preservation of the houses in a condition of extraordinary freshness. 
The houses in these villages are free property to the inhabitants of the Haouran, who live in 
them rent-free, and when they are tired of one village remove to another as seems convenient 
to them. Those who first arrive appropriate the best houses, but they have no right in them, 

" The Haouran is an immense plain, very rich and fertile, sometimes slightly undulating, sometimes flat as a pancake, — 
with here and there low rounded hills, like dumplings, conspicuous from a great distance, and excellent landmarks." — Lord 
Lindsay, ii. 129. 

b Few of the stone doors remain in use ; but those which are still found entire, with the fragments of others, with the indications 
about the door-posts, render it manifest that most of the doors were anciently of stone. 

VOL. I. t 


nor desire to have any, longer than they continue to occupy them. Theie heing more houses 
and villages than can be occupied, while no ties of property exist, removals are frequent, and 
scarcely a man can be found who is a native of the place in which he lives. Hence, also, 
some travellers find villages to be void of inhabitants which others had found to be inhabited, 
and the reverse. 

The public buildings in the towns have suffered more, as might be expected, and are, for 
the most part, in fact, in ruins. They are all Roman ; and, with the villages, satisfactorily 
evince how prosperous and populous this country a was under their rule: while the vast labour 
and expense which was bestowed by them on public works, destined to promote the comfort, 
and even the luxury of the inhabitants of the towns in their distant colonies, is evinced by the 
numerous remains of amphitheatres, paved roads, aqueducts, and reservoirs, which are still of 
vast service to the inhabitants. Works of this sort are, indeed, so numerous and important, in 
this and other districts east of the Jordan, that Mr. Buckingham could say, that " neither in 
the East nor West Indies, at the Cape of Good Hope, New South Wales, nor any other of 
the many colonial possessions of Great Britain, are there any works, even at their respective 
capitals (fortresses alone excepted) which can be compared for magnificence or utility with 
the numerous public works scattered over the region of Decapolis, and attached to the colonial 
towns of the Romans, of so little importance, even in their estimation, that not even their 
names have descended to us in the annals of their empire." 

This same traveller was struck by the height of the stone door-ways, about seven feet, while 
in Palestine and other parts of Syria they are rather below than above the human stature, so 
that in most cases the passenger is obliged to stoop as he enters. But a good house includes 
a large room or stable for cattle ; and it seems the doors are made so high to admit camels 
under shelter at night, and thus secure them from the incursions of the Bedouins. This flat 
country must always have been, as it is now, a camel country, and, from the indestructible 
nature of their materials, the rooms for their reception may have been of the highest an- 

" During our journey through the [western] hills," says Mr. Buckingham, " we had seen 
only horses, mules, and asses, used as beasts of burden ; but since we have entered the plain 
of Haouran, we have met only camels, and these to the number of several hundreds in the 
course of one day. If this were really the land of Uz, b and the town [Gherbee] in which we 
now halted the place of Job's residence, as tradition maintains, there would be no portion of 
all Syria or Palestine that I have yet seen more suited to the production and maintenance of 
the 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 she-asses, which are enumerated as 
forming the substance of ' the greatest of all the men of the East ' (Job i. 3). At the present 
day there is no man, probably, with such herds and flocks for his portion ; but these are. still, 
as they were in the earliest times, the great wealth of the men of substance in the country : 
and it is as common now as it appears to have been when the history of Job was written, to 
describe a man of consideration in these plains by the number of his flocks and herds, rather 
than by any other less tangible indication of wealth." 

It is difficult to say what were the limits of the Land of the Ammonites. Indeed it is 
not easy to find room, adequate to their relative importance, for the several tribes or nations 
which the Scriptures place in the country east of the Jordan. There are, however, large 
tracts of country, south of the Haouran and east of Moab, which remain to be explored ; and 
although travellers have heard that all this country is desert, we should not be surprised if it 
proves that those districts form as fine a country as the Haouran or the plains of Moab, with, 
perhaps, as ample indications of a formerly dense and active population. The term " desert " 
is very loosely applied ; and travellers are too apt to conclude that all which they do not see is 

a Called by them Auranitis ; but, in the extent now viewed, the present Haouran seemed also to have included at least a con- 
siderable part of Iturzea. 

t> At Gherbee, near the western borders of the plain towards Bashan, the tradition is, that Job was born and lived there, or in 
that quarter, and that there is the scene of his history as detailed in the sacred volume. 

<= Burckhardt, 51-121,211-250; Buckingham, 167,'l7l, 180, 251, &c. ; Robinson, ii 137, 161, 1C8 ; Lindsay, ii. 129, 130. 


not worth seeing. Within our own times, much of the country which we have now been 
describing was regarded as much a desert as that unexplored region which is now indicated 
as bearing that character. There was plenty of room for the Ammonites to spread in this 
direction, to the extent of that idea which the scriptural accounts seem to give of the relative 
importance of this branch of the family of Lot. Their territories may also well have reached 
beyond the Zerka into the southern parts of the Haouran — a name which described the 
country without any reference to its occupiers. There is a chain of hills commencing near 
the Zerka, at about the distance of forty miles east of the Jordan, by the name of Jebel el 
Zoble, and which is continued southward under different names, and at a diminishing distance 
from the Dead Sea. Extensive plains lie between these hills and the hill country of Moab ; 
and beyond them, eastward, all is said to be desert. Now as it happens that the remains of a 
site which still bears the name of Amman, and which was doubtless originally that of Rabbah, 
the capital of the Ammonites, has been found upon the hills at the north-western border of 
this plain, it might be safe to give them as much of this plain itself as might not interfere 
with the claims of their brethren the Moabites, besides the very possible extension into the 
southern parts of the Haouran and into the " desert " beyond the eastern hills. Confining 
our attention to the known part which we have not yet described — which is the eastern and 
northern part of these enclosed plains — we may observe that even this has been little explored 
by travellers. Seetzen, Burckhardt, and Trby and Mangles, only traversed the south-western 
portion, belonging, as we suppose, to Moab ; and the more easterly route of Buckingham, 
from Amman to Om el Russas, ran about twelve miles from the eastern hills ; and he, 
therefore, with Mr. Robinson, who saw something also of this part, are the only travellers 
who supply any available information. 

Proceeding from Amman southward, through the plain, we find everywhere a fertile soil 
capable of the highest cultivation, but entirely uncultivated. A broad Roman road extends 
completely through it, and far beyond it. The plain seems to have a slight ascent for sixteen 
miles, where the highest point is reached in an elevation which commands a view over a still 
more extensive plain than that which has been passed, lying on a somewhat lower level. 
" Throughout its whole extent were seen ruined towns in every direction, both before, behind, 
and on each side of us ; generally seated on small eminences, all at a short distance from each 
other ; and all as far as we had yet seen bearing evident marks of former opulence and con- 
sideration. There was not a tree in sight as far as the eye could reach ; but my guide, who 
had been over every part of it, assured me that the whole plain was covered with the finest 
soil and capable of being the most productive corn land in the world. It is true that for a 
space of thirty miles there did not appear to me a single interruption of hill, rock, or wood, to 
impede immediate tillage ; and it is certain that the great plain of Esdraelon, so justly cele- 
brated for its extent and fertility, is inferior in both to this plain. Like Esdraelon, it appears 
also to have been once the seat of an active and numerous population ; but on the former the 
monuments of the dead only remain, while here the habitations of the living are equally 
mingled with the tombs of the departed, both thickly strewn over every part of the soil from 
which they drew their sustenance." 

Om el Russas, the most southern point which has been reached in this direction, is about 
forty-two miles S.S.E. from Amman. After the first eighteen or twenty miles, the quality of 
the soil differs from having a larger proportion of clay, but it still continues fertile and highly 
cultivable. But after leaving a place called Om el Keseer, which is twenty-five miles from 
Amman, it appears to grow progressively inferior, though for the most part still capable of 
cultivation. The face of the country also becomes more unequal and the level descends ; and 
before we reach our limit the ground becomes stony, chalky, and barren. The unexplored 
country southward is no doubt desert. 

In short, this country, or series of plains, has a rich soil, but is without trees or shrubs. 
The ground is highly cultivable, but exhibits not the least trace of actual cultivation ; and 
while numerous ruins indicate how rich and populous the country once was, it is now, more 

t 2 


than even the Haouran, without fixed inhabitants. The wandering tribes resort to it in the 
summer months, for the sake of the pasturage which it offers ; but when they have left, the 
ashes and dung of their encampments are the only signs of human occupation which the 
country affords. " It is now one vast desert, which has long ceased to be occupied by man 
in a civilized state. " a Thus truly has Ammon become " a desolation, 5 ' as the prophets fore- 

Although there are not, properly speaking, any deserts in Palestine itself, the deserts by 
which it is bounded on the east, and on the south, figure so largely in the history of the country, 
and exercised so manifest an influence on the condition and relations of its inhabitants, as well 
as on their ideas and sentiments, that it is quite necessary to bestow upon them a concluding 
portion of our attention. 

The best and most satisfactory general description of these deserts is that which has been 
supplied by Volney ; c and having tested this account by some information in our own posses- 
sion, and by the statements of various travellers who have crossed the desert he describes, we 
have judged it best to adopt it as the basis of the following account. 

To form an idea of these deserts, the reader must imagine a glowing and unclouded sky, 
over plains so vast that the view is lost in them ; and entirely destitute of buildings, trees, 
rivulets, or hills. Often in these plains the eye meets nothing but an extensive and uniform 
horizon like the sea; while a few isolated palm-trees, here and there, complete the illusion by 
appearing in the distance like the masts of ships. In other parts the undulated surface sug- 
gests the idea of a stormy sea, d while in others it is roughened by rocks and stones. Almost 
always arid, the land offers only some wild plants, thinly scattered, and thickets, whose soli- 
tude is rarely disturbed but by gazelles, hysenas, hares, jerboas, and locusts. Such is the 
character of nearly the whole country, which extends 600 leagues in length and 300 in 
breadth, stretching from Aleppo to the Arabian Sea, and from Egypt to the Persian Gulf. 

In such an extent of country there is, however, considerable variation of soil. Upon the 
frontiers of Syria, for example, which is that portion of this immense desert with which we 
have most concern, the soil is in general rich, cultivable, and fertile. It is of the same cha- 
racter on the banks of the Euphrates. But in the internal parts of the country, and towards 
the south, it becomes white and chalky, as in the parallel of Damascus, then stony as we 
advance into the deserts of El Tyh and of the Hedjaz, and ultimately pure sand, as to the 
east of Yemen. These variations produce corresponding differences in the condition of the 
inhabiting tribes. In the districts where the herbage is scarce or meagre, as in the Nedjed and 
in the interior of the great desert, the tribes are feeble and very distant. They become less 
rare and nearer to one another in those parts where the soil is less bare and the oases more 
frequent, as between Damascus and the Euphrates, and in the cultivable cantons of the Aleppo 
pashalic, in the Haouran ; and in the country of Gaza the Arab camps are numerous and con- 
tiguous. In the first case, the Bedouins are a purely pastoral people, living on the produce 
of their flocks and on a few dates ; in the second, they are demi-cultivators, and sow some 
land, which enables them to add to their fare a little rice and barley. 

This invincible sterility of the desert, even where the soil is naturally fertile, or where not 

a Buckingham's ' Arab Tribes,' 82-99 ; Robinson, ii. 171, 180. 

t> Dr. Keith, in his popular work on ' Evidence from Prophecy,' describes the Haouran as the land of the Ammonites. But it 
is not likely that they ever had more than perhaps a portion of the south of that vast plain. The district which we have now 
described would have answered his laudable purpose as well or better, and it may with far greater probability than the Haouran 
be assigned to the Ammonites. In Dr. Keith's remarkable book, the parts which refer to towns are by much the most valuable. 
When there is a determined site, such facts and observations as those which this author has collected apply with great force and 
effect; but in those portions which refer to the state of the " Lands " of certain ancient nations, there is, perhaps necessarily, 
much vague and uncertain matter, and the result is comparatively ineffective to the instructed reader. 

c Baron Taylor bears witness to its value by copying it entire, with some slight alterations and additions, into his recent 
publication, " La Syrie." 

d The comparisons, here employed, of the desert to the sea in various conditions, are so common that they have become trite. 
Yet, we can answer for it, they are the ever first and last impressions which strike a traveller, and are, therefore, natural and proper. 
The reader who would like to trace the varying characteristics of the desert between Syria and the Euphrates, cannot do better 
than consult the daily entries in Colonel Capper's ' Observations on the Passage to India, through Egypt and across the Great 
Desert" (1/83). 


absolutely sandy, is entirely owing to the absence of water ; and this want of water is occa- 
sioned by the nature of tbe country, which being flat and destitute of mountains which might 
arrest the clouds, they glide over its heated surface during nine months of the twelve without 
affording a single drop of rain. Thus, during the day, the sky sparkles in brilliance, and is 
of the finest azure during the night. In winter only, when the cold of the atmosphere con- 
denses the clouds, they soon resolve themselves in showers ; but in the interior of the desert 
the water thus supplied is very quickly absorbed by the arid sands. Upon the borders only it 
affords an irrigation by which the natural fecundity of the soil is awakened. The summer 
comes ; and all this water disappears without any durable result in springs or perennial brooks. 
Hence to avoid the inconvenience of wanting water the whole summer, it has been necessary 
to form, by manual labour, wells, cisterns, and reservoirs, in which to preserve a supply of 
rain-water for the year. Such works, though rude and inadequate, are expensive and 
laborious, and are therefore of rare occurrence, except in the more settled districts. Besides, 
war may destroy in one day the labour of many months and the resources of the year. A 
drought, which is but too common, may cause the failure of a crop, and reduce the inhabitants 
to a total want of water. It is true that, by digging, water may almost everywhere be found at 
from six to twenty feet deep, but this is generally brackish, and the supply is soon exhausted. 
Then thirst and famine supervene ; and unless the government interferes, the villages are deserted. 
From this it results that the condition of agriculture is, in such border districts, most preca- 
rious," 1 and the establishments are constantly menaced with ruin ; and when to this operation 
of natural causes, is added the weight with which the exactions of the government press upon 
the cultivator, it must often seem the better choice to lead a wandering life than to reside in a 
fixed habitation and rely on agriculture for subsistence. 

In those districts where the soil is stony and sandy, as in the deserts between Palestine and 
Sinai, in which the hosts of Israel spent forty years, and in those of the Hedjaz and the 
Nedjed, these winter rains make the seeds of the wild plants shoot, and revive the thickets, the 
ranunculuses, the wormwood, the kali, and the numerous other plants and herbs with which the 
desert then abounds. They render the lower grounds marshy, which then produce reeds and 
grass, and the plain assumes a tolerable degree of verdure. 

Major Skinner, who crossed at this season the desert between Damascus and Babylonia, 
describes it as having then nothing appalling but the name, — as being, in fact, a perfect 
garden, in which it is easy for the traveller to mark his progress by the plants he meets, as 
every day exhibits the predominance of some new race. 

But all this glory of the desert, which supplies so many metaphors to the prophetic writers, 
is most transitory. On the return of the heats, everything is parched up, and the earth, con- 
verted into a gray and fine dust, presents nothing but dry stems, as hard as wood, on which 
no animals can feed. 

Yet even the desert is not without such immunities and congenial charms, as endear it to 
its wild inhabitants, as much as the most fertile and pleasant country can be endeared to a 
civilized people. Its climate is more fixed and salubrious than that of the countries by which 
it is bordered. The plague is scarcely known ; ophthalmia is very rare ; and the small-pox 
may be described as the only endemic malady. The Arab tribes have, from remote times, 
divided these wide and arid sands among themselves. These territorial divisions are neces- 
sarily of very great extent, as it often happens that the desert in an extent of thirty miles offers 
only a few roods of land where the flocks can find even a dry and scanty herbage. Thus, 
in order to obtain nourishment for a few cattle, the Arabs are obliged to overrun vast 
tracts, and this has engaged them to the nomade life. But besides this physical reason, 
which explains and justifies the Bedouin condition of existence, there are others of a political 
sort which are not less operative. For if, in fact, their migratory habits only proceeded from 
the nakedness of their country, they could advance into the fertile districts along their frontiers, 
and form there nearly permanent encampments, as the Hebrew patriarchs did in Palestine, — 

B Even the Haouran comes within this description. There are times when all the hopes of the year are destroyed by the failure 
or inadequacy of the winter rains. Such was the case at the time of Mr. Buckingham's visit to that quarter. 


ending by founding villages, like the Turkmanns and Koords. But they do not this. They 
choose rather to dwell in plains the most naked, in steppes the most inaccessible. And why ? 
It is because that which the Arab values before all other things is his independence, his com- 
plete isolation from every form of superiority or patronage, whether mild or onerous, cruel or 
clement. That which the Bedouins most seek is to keep themselves from a position which 
might lead or compel them to bear arms for the pashas, and leave them at liberty to pursue 
what they consider their proper trade of rapine and theft. This is the great motive to 
them of preserving a mode of life which renders such continual and fatiguing removals 
necessary. But if they chance to light upon a place where they think they can enjoy security 
and freedom, joined to adequate resources, they remain there, and insensibly pass into the con- 
dition of settled cultivators. But if it happens, on the contrary, that the vexatious tyranny of 
a governor puts an end to the patience of an established village, it is no unusual thing for the 
inhabitants to flee in a body to the mountains, or into the plains, often changing their stations 
that they may not be surprised. Sometimes it happens that such people, after having become 
robbers from the necessities of their position, form new hordes and ultimately class themselves 
into tribes. But these new people, born in a cultivable country, almost never quit the fron- 
tiers, and never without great difficulty arrive at the determination to throw themselves into 
the heart of the desert. The desert is the exclusive domain of the Arab, who is born in it. 

We have not been able to withhold these facts, as they appear to us to contribute much 
illustration to many circumstances which the sacred history records, and to the conditions and 
mutations of life which it exhibits. We thus see by what process the migratory inhabitants of 
the desert become like the Hebrews, a settled agricultural people ; and again, how the people 
settled on the borders may melt away into the great Bedouin mass. The tendency of such 
people to remain as near as possible to their original seats would be a most interesting circum- 
stance if it should authorise us to conclude, or even to conjecture, that the descendants of Lot 
and Esau may still be found among the Bedouins, who are now almost the sole inhabitants of 
the lands of Moab, Amnion, and Edom. 

It may seem proper to follow this general statement by a somewhat more particular notice 
of the country between Palestine and Egypt, and between Palestine and Sinai, which forms 
the desert — or rather portion of the desert — best known to the Hebrews at all times, and un- 
questionably that in which their forty years of wandering were passed. Indeed, in memory 
of this, the whole still bears the name of El Tyh — the Wandering — which is also borne by 
the ridge of mountains that separate it on the south from the Upper Sinai : in Scripture dif- 
ferent parts of it seem to be called by different names ; but that which seems capable of the 
largest application to the whole is " the wilderness, or desert, of Paran." 

" The space comprised between the Delta, the extremity of the Red Sea, and the Mediter- 
ranean, contains in the north-west some cultivated lands, watered by the derivations of the 
Nile. The rest, absolutely arid, forms what are called the deserts of the isthmus of Suez ; 
towards the south-east vast sandy plains extend along the Mediterranean to Syria and connect 
themselves with those which adjoin the Dead Sea and Palestine. " a Such is the information, 
good as far as it goes, which at the end of the last century was obtained by the French savans. 
Since then more detailed information has been supplied from various sources. 

The reader is very apt to imagine that the whole is a dead and arid level. But this is by 
no means the case, the irregularity of the surface and diversity of appearance being con- 

Only the maritime borders, on either hand, of that part of the peninsula of Sinai which lies 
north of the Tyh mountains have been described. For Mr. Arundale, who did traverse the 
interior, gives only a few slight hints, which just enable us to conclude that, as the connection 
might suggest, one general character belongs to all the desert which extends, from south 
to north, about 100 miles, from the ridge of El Tyh to the tract of high and barren mountains 
which occur about 75 miles to the south of Hebron; and from east to west, about 240 miles, 
being from the vicinity of Cairo to the Valley of Araba. This great tract of country, or rather 

a Boziere, • De la Constitution Physique etc l'Egypte, 30], 302. 


that principal portion of it which lies to the east of the isthmus of Suez, is the proper El Tyh 

This then may be described, after the information of Professor Robinson, as a vast un- 
bounded plain, its surface not sandy, but, for the most part, of a hard gravel, often strewed 
with pebbles. Numerous wadys, or watercourses, intersect it ; and in most of these are to be 
found some scattered tufts of herbs, or shrubs, on which the camels browse as they pass along, 
and which serve also as their pasturage when turned loose at night. Irregular ridges of 
limestone hills are seen in various directions. The mirage frequently occurs. Wells are 
found at considerable distances, and the water is in all of them drinkable, though none seem 
to be exempt from that mineral [sometimes sulphureous] taste so commonly found in the 
wells of the desert. This desert is, in fact, an elevated plateau, much above the level of the 
Red Sea, and as high or higher than the tops of the mountains by which we ascend to it, 
whether from the southern valleys of Sinai, or from its eastern or western shore, or from 
behind Akaba, or from the Wady el Araba. a 

Advancing upon this plain from the south or the south-east, we have before us, as a land- 
mark, a high conical mountain. It is in view at least three days before we come to it, and 
in the distance appears isolated. It bears the name of Jebel Araif-en-Nakah, and a lower 
ridge extends from it eastward. As we approach it, the country becomes undulating and un- 
even and the hills more frequent. The mountain itself forms the south-eastern corner or 
bulwark of a mountainous region which extends hence to the northward, and from it a ridge 
stretches east terminating in a bluff called Makrah, near the Araba and opposite Mount Hor. 
After passing this mountain the character of the desert is changed. On our right is now a 
mountainous district composed of irregular limestone ridges, running in various directions, 
and filling the whole country eastward quite to Wady Araba. The road passes along the 
western side of this mountainous district crossing many broad wadys, which flow down from 
it westward, with elevated ridges of table-land between them. Beyond the district thus 
described, the country opens into wide sandy plains, in which Dr. Robinson [who had already 
been in Egypt and Sinai] had his first experience of the simoom. This character of the desert 
is preserved till we reach Wady Ruheibah, which, being thus on the borders of the sandy 
desert, we have before agreed to consider as the southern frontier of Palestine. 

Of the extraordinary visitations to which the deserts are subject, the hot wind, called by the 
Arabs the simoom, and by the Turks samiel, both of which words mean the poison-wind, 
seems the most remarkable and injurious. The accounts which are given by different persons 
vary so greatly, that it is difficult to deduce from them a connected statement of facts ; and 
some writers have gone so far as to discredit the stronger effects which have been ascribed to 
this phenomenon. The fact seems to us to be, that, in this, as in a thousand other matters, 
people infer analogies between what they do see and what they do not see ; and in this they 
may be, and often are, wrong, from not knowing, or not taking into account, the circumstances 
by which differences and modifications may be and are produced. Travellers, whose routes 
almost always lie along the borders of the great desert, and who never visit those vast interior 
solitudes of sand which only the natives dare to traverse, witness only these phenomena in the 
most mild and mitigated forms, and thoughtlessly infer that they must be equally mild in the 
very heart of the desert, although they know that the causes which produce them must there 
be operating with more intense effect. What we ourselves deduce from the balance of testi- 
monies is, that these phenomena are exhibited with diminished force the greater our distance 
from the heart of the desert is increased ; and that the travellers who describe those mitigated 
phenomena which alone they noticed in their border routes, have no right to deny the concur- 
rent testimony of history and of the natives, which ascribe to them stronger developments and 
more ruinous effects in the interior of the desert. 

The simoom blows generally from the direction of the nearest sandy deserts ; in Syria from 
those of Arabia, and in Egypt from those of Africa. Dr. Russell informs us that " the true 

a This appears from comparing the intimations of Burckhardt, Laborde, Robinson, and Aruudale. 


simoom " (by which expression he seems to have felt the necessity for such a distinction as 
we have now made) never reaches so far north as Aleppo, nor is common in the desert between 
that city and Basrah. He was, however, careful to collect the reports of the Arabs, which he 
thus states : — " They assert that its progression is in separate or distinct currents, so that the 
caravan, which in its march in the desert sometimes spreads to a great breadth, suffers only 
partially in certain places of the line, while the intermediate parts remain untouched. That 
sometimes those only who happen to be mounted on camels are affected, though more com- 
monly such as are on foot ; but that both never suffer alike. That lying flat on the ground 
till the blast passes over is the best method of avoiding the danger, but that the attack is some- 
times so sudden as to leave no time for precaution. Its effects sometimes prove instantly 
fatal, the corpse being livid, or black, like that of a person blasted by lightning ; at other times 
it produces putrid fevers, which prove mortal in a few hours ; and that very few of those who 
have been struck recover." This is not all they tell. The attention of Thevenot was strongly 
drawn to the subject, and he made particular inquiries concerning it, at the towns on the 
borders of the desert, of different persons in different places. He says that they all agreed in 
their testimony, which is the same in substance as that which has just been adduced, with the 
additions, — which, we know, form part of the current account among the natives. — " No 
sooner does a man die by this wind than he becomes black as a coal, and if one take him 
by the leg, arm, or any other place, his flesh comes off from the bone, and is plucked off by 
the hand that would lift him up. They say that in this wind there are streaks of fire as small 
as a hair, which have been seen by some, and that those who breathe in those rays of fire die 
of them, the rest receiving no damage." We willingly confess that there are some points in 
these statements which savour of exaggeration ; but we consider that, taking the whole of 
these reports at their lowest value, they evince at least that the simoom is sometimes pro- 
ductive of immediately fatal effects in the interior of the deserts. Most of the described phe- 
nomena suggest a highly electrical state of the atmosphere, and the symptoms of immediate 
putrefaction are such as occur in cases of death by lightning. 

The mitigated effects of this wind, as experienced and reported by European travellers, may 
thus be described. 

The Arabs, and others accustomed to the deserts, are aware of the signs which portend a 
coming simoom, and if they make the discovery before a day's journey is commenced, cannot 
be induced to depart from their station until it has overpast. Even the cattle are aware of the 
approaching evil, and manifest their uneasiness by plaintive cries, and other tokens of distress. 
All animated nature seems to take alarm, and to throw itself upon the defensive. The horizon 
gradually assumes a dull purplish or violet hue, while the sun becomes shorn of its beams, 
and looks red and heavy, as through a London fog. Then comes on the hot wind, laden with 
a subtile and burning dust, or rather fine sand, which penetrates to all things ; the atmosphere 
becomes exceedingly hot, and the air, less even from its heat a than from its noxious qualities 
and the particles with which it is laden, is breathed with difficulty ; and even under the shelter 
of a tent, and with every possible precaution and safeguard, the effect is most distressing. It 
fires, burns, dries up the lungs, the mouth is parched, the skin dry, and a feeling of universal 
debility prevails, while the pulse rises as in fever. Life seems attacked in its most delicate 
organs ; and there is much reason to think that any prolonged subjection to even this greatly 
mitigated form of the evil would be attended with serious consequences ; and still more if no 
measures of protection against it were sought. Mr. Madden, who was exposed to a somewhat 
slight simoom in the desert of Suez, and remained in his tent while it lasted (above seven 
hours) describes the sensation as inexpressibly distressing ; but he does not think it was the 
degree of heat that occasioned it, for in Upper Egypt he had suffered an equally high tem- 
perature 1 " without any such prostration of strength and spirits. But he believes the hot wind 

a Fynes Moryson (not the Morison we have so often cited) compares the inspiring of this air to the hasty swallowing of too hot 
broth ! — a homely but expressive comparison. 

" The thermometer at two o'clock rose to 110° in the shade ; and on putting the bulb in the sand, outside the tent, in a few 
minutes the mercury was at 130°." 

Chap. V.] 



of the desert to be connected with an electrical state of the atmosphere, which has a depressing 
influence on the nervous system. And this, it will be remembered, is the opinion of a medical 

In Egypt, where, as in Palestine, this wind is much less alarming than even in the border 
deserts, it exchanges its name of simoom for that of kamseen (fifty), because it is felt the mo6t 
frequently during fifty days about the vernal equinox. 


It is not so much alleged, generally, that the naked operation of the simoom is so destruc- 
tive, even in the interior of the great deserts, as the immense drifts and whirlwinds of sand 
which it raises. We have seen that there are some indications of this, — that it fills the air with 
fine sand, even in the border deserts ; and how much more, then, in those vast interior ex- 
panses, where, even in a state of rest, the immense hills a of sand thrown up by the winds, 
and left to be swept away and removed by some future storms, bear evidence to the operations 
of the wind upon these sandy surfaces. Immense clouds of sand are, under the operation of 
the wind, raised high in air, and in their ultimate fall overwhelm whatever lies below. Often 
the whirling eddies of the wind condense the drifting sands into more compact masses, causing 
them to spindle up into tall and rounded columns, which, still acted upon by the power which 
reared and sustains them, keep moving over the plain till they fall in a hill or wide-spread 
sheet of sand. Thus the surface of the desert is, to a considerable depth, in frequent motion ; 
and thus, we are told, caravans and entire armies have been slain and buried by the concurrent 
effects of the hot wind, and of the immense masses of sand which it drifts so furiously 
along. To such a cause history attributes the loss of the army which the mad Persian con- 
queror, Cambyses, sent across the desert against the inhabitants of the oasis of Ammon. 
Happily these sand-storms, in their more terrible forms, are far from common ; else no one 
could adventure to pass the desert. They are also less frequent, and less formidable in the 
deserts of south-western Asia than in those of Africa, westward from Egypt, where the tracts 
of sand are more extensive, and seem to be mere easily set in motion. 

As the simoom usually moves at a certain height in the atmosphere, the common resource 
against its effects is, as already intimated, to lie flat on the ground till they pass over. Man 

a In the Caspian steppes (of pure sand) we have seen such hills at least thirty feet high, by about the same diameter. 


was probably taugbt tbis resource by observing tbat, at sucb times, camels and otber animals 
bend their beads to the ground and bury their nostrils in the sand. Shelter from the sand- 
storm is sought in nearly the same manner. The traveller generally lies down on the lee 
side of his camel ; but, as the sands are soon drifted around him to the level of his body, both 
the beast and its owner are obliged frequently to rise and change their position, to avoid being 
entirely covered. If the storm is of long duration, as it often is, this constant exertion, with 
the effects of the hot wind, and the dread and danger of the sandy inundation, produces such 
weariness, sleepiness, or despair, that both men and animals remain on the ground, and a very 
short time suffices to bury them under the sands. It is thus chiefly that the simoom becomes 
extremely destructive to the life of man and beast. It is easy, in our own cool and quiet 
country, to sit down and doubt about these things ; but the whitened bones which strew the 
desert bear witness to their truth. And any one who, at even a safe season of the year, has 
passed over such wastes, and during the halt of his caravan has lain down for rest upon the sand, 
wrapped up in his cloak, must, like the writer of this, have felt a very serious conviction of 
the probability of such events. The only marked objects in the sandy desolation are the huge 
hillocks of drifted sand; and he knows, that such winds as formed them will disperse them 
all abroad over the face of the land ; and he knows not but that, after the next storm, a mound 
of sand may cover the place whereon he lies. 

These showers and whirlwinds of sand, or of sand and dust, or of dust only, according to 
the nature of the country, were certainly known to the Hebrews. Their then recent expe- 
rience in the desert, taught them to know the full intensity of those visitations with which 
Moses denounced that God would scourge their disobedience : — " Thy heaven that is over 
thy head shall be brass ; and the earth which is under thee shall be iron. Jehovah will give 
instead of rain to thy land dust ; and from the heavens shall dust descend upon thee until 
thou he destroyed. " a 

The threat of dust to the land instead of rain, brings to mind the tendency of the drifted 
sands to encroach upon the cultivable lands of the borders. The tendency of actual cultivation 
is to repel such encroachments ; but, where cultivation is discontinued, a very serious loss of 
cultivable soil is in the course of time incurred. Ample proof of this may be seen on the 
south and the south-east borders of the Holy Land, showing the actual fulfilment of the de- 
nunciation we have adduced. Here again the desert is comparable to the sea ; for, as the sea 
encroaches on the land, so do the sands encroach upon the cultivable soil. b 

This text might also be adduced in support of the statement that ascribes largely destruc- 
tive powers to these visitations. They have not been unknown even in the northernmost 
parts of Syria. Witness William of Tyre's account of the whirlwind of sand to which 
he ascribes the victory of the Moslems over the prince of Antioch, in the territory of that 
name. e And we might, therefore, expect them to be still more common in Palestine, as they 
are in Egypt and in other countries bordering on extensive plains. Moses describes the desert 
in which the Israelites wandered for forty years as " a desert land, the waste howling wilder- 
ness;" 4 and as " that great and terrible wilderness, where were fiery serpents, and scorpions, 
and drought, where there was no water ;" e and of which Jeremiah f more amply speaks as of 
" a land of deserts and of pits, a land of drought and of the shadow of death, a land that no 
man passed through, and where no man dwelt." And that among the characteristics indi- 
cated in these terms, those which we have described may, to some extent, be comprehended 
is shown by the account which William of Tyre gives of the march of Syracon, general of the 
army of Noureddin Emir of Damascus, and uncle of the famous Saladin, into this very desert, 
between Syria and Egypt, in which the Israelites wandered so long. During the march the. 

a Deut. xxviii. 23, 24. 

V> This is, perhaps, more strongly manifested in Egypt. Denon says, — " When this destructive scourge sets in from the desert, 
the inundation of sand often overwhelms the country, changes its fertility to barrenness, drives the labourer from his house, whose 
walls it covers up, and leaves no other mark of vegetable life than the tops of a few palm-trees, which adds still more to the 
dreary aspect of desolation. Thus the desert is continually encroaching on the fertile land; and, were the waters of the Nile 
to discontinue their inundations, the whole vale of Egypt would eventually become a desert, or a vale of sand." 

c ' Hist. Belli Sacri.' xii. 9. <1 Deut. xxxii. 10. e Deut. viii. 15. ' Jer. ii. 6. 


troops were encountered by a whirlwind of such force, that it raised into the air vast clouds of 
sand, which obscured the sun and occasioned a thick darkness. So densely filled was the air 
by the sandy particles, that no one dared to open his mouth or eyes, to speak to another or to 
look around him. The horsemen deemed it prudent to dismount; and many prostrated 
themselves and dived their hands deep into the sand, to obtain such fast hold as might prevent 
the wind from whirling them up, and breaking their necks or legs in casting them again to 
the ground. Some of the men did lose their lives ; many camels also were lost, and most of 
the provisions; and the army was, for the time, quite dispersed by the storm. " For in this 
desert," says the historian, using the standard comparison, " waves of sand are raised and 
tossed about, like the waves of the sea when troubled by tempestuous winds ; so that to 
navigate a stormy sea is, at times, not more dangerous than to pass such deserts." 11 

Another phenomenon of the desert is the mirage. This is an illusion, producing the most 
cruel disappointment to those who traverse the dry and sandy plains, as it assumes precisely 
the appearances most calculated to delight the traveller and to seduce him from his way. 
Sometimes he sees before him a fine lake ; but if, in the eagerness of thirst and heat, he 
hastens towards it, the margin seems to retire, so that the surface of water as he advances 
becomes narrower, and at last disappears altogether ; but the whole appearance may be again 
exhibited before him at the same distance as that at which it was first observed. All this time 
the impatient traveller will seem, to those who have remained behind, to have reached the mar- 
gin, to have entered the lake, and to have forded it to the other side. Or again, there may 
seem to be the fair similitude of a green oasis, with its tufted palms, traversed by a broad river. 
In such cases the illusion of water is complete: for not only are the bushes or other objects 
which may be on the margin reflected in it, but it has something like the ripple of water ; 
and in such instances as the first is streaked by those numerous shining patches observable on 
the surface of lakes when viewed from a distance. The best prepared travellers are unable 
to resist the force of this illusion, or to believe that which they see to be unreal. The cruel 
mockery of such an appearance, in the midst of these arid steppes, may in some degree be 
conceived, but not properly appreciated without actual experience. 

This phenomenon is very common even on the skirts of the desert, and must have been 
tolerably well known to the Hebrews. They called it by the name 2TW serab, h which it still 
bears among the Arabs, who, as well as the Persians, often use it, by a fine metaphor, to 
express disappointed hope. To this one prophet seems to allude when he asks, " Wilt thou 
be altogether unto me as unreal waters ?" c And there is every reason to conclude that Isaiah 
draws his beautiful metaphors from the apparent effects thus exhibited in the desert, when 
he foretels the glories of the Messiah's reign d in glowing language which a poet of our own 
has not unworthily imitated : — 

" The swain, in barren deserts, with surprise 
Sees lilies spring, and sudden verdure rise ; 
And starts amidst the thirsty wilds to hear 
New falls of water murmuring in his ear. 
On rifted rocks, the dragons' late abodes. 
The green reed trembles, and the bulrush nods; 
Wide sandy valleys, lato perplex'd with thorn, 
The spiry fir, and shapely box adorn ; 
To leafless shrubs the flowery palms succeed, 
And odorous myrtle to tho noisome weed " e 

a ' Hist. Belli Saeri.' xix. 15. b The desert water. c Jer. xv. 18. 

d Isa. xxxv. In verse 7 the word rendered " parched ground " in our public version is actually this word, serab, by which the 
Arabs describe the mirage. 

e Besides the authorities cited in the course of the preceding account of deserts and their phenomena, being William of Tyre, 
Volney, Taylor, Thevenot, Russell, Capper, Roziere, Denon, Skinner, Mr. Robinson, Madden, Dr. Robinson, Arundale, &c, the 
following have been consulted: — Pietro della Valle, ' Viaggi in Turchia,' &c, 1. xix. Rauwolff, ii. 5; Da Bois-Ayme, ' Memoire 
sur les Tribes Arabes;' Burckhardt, ' Syria' and 'Notes on the Bedouins;' Belzoni, 'Narrative of Operations,' 341-343; 
Wellsted, ' Travels in Arabia,' ii. 31 ; Stephens, i. 236-238 ; Coutelle, ' Observations sur la Topographie de la Presqu'ile de Sinai.' 

u 2 



[Chap. V. 


0) Valley op Jehoshaphat, p. cxxi. — 
When different names are applied to the dif- 
ferent parts of this valley it is usually thus : — 
The valley is divided into three parts, of which 
the northern is called the Valley of Kedron ; 
the middle, the Valley of Jehoshaphat ; and 
the southern, the Valley of Siloam — from the 
fountain of that name on the one side, and the 
village on the other, These three names are 
also applied, respectively, to the whole extent 
of the valley ; but that of the Valley of Siloam 
less frequently than the other two,— being- 
only, that we recollect, so applied by Josephus. 
But it is more common to distinguish the 
Valley of Siloam, and apply one of the other 
denominations to all the rest. The other 
Scriptural names which have been generally 
thought to apply to this valley are the follow- 

The Valley of Shaveh, where Melchise- 
deck met Abraham when lie returned from 
the slaughter of the kings. Gen. xiv. 17. This 
seems a very uncertain conclusion. 

The King's Dale, which, from the text just 
cited, was doubtless the same as the Valley of 
Shaveh, whether the same as the Valley of 
Jehoshaphat or not. In this King's Dale 
Absalom erected his monumental pillar. 2 
Sam. xviii. 18. This name is equivalent to 
that of the Royal Valley, which it is supposed 
to have taken from the gardens and pleasure- 
houses which the kings reigning in Jerusalem 
had there. 

The Valley of Vision is the name figura- 
tively given to it by the prophet Isaiah (xxi. 2). 
But in the figurative allusions to this valley, 
Jerusalem itself is often intended. 

The name Jehoshaphat means the Judgment 
of Jehovah. Joel is the only prophet who uses 
the name Valley of Jehoshaphat, and there is an 
evident play upon the name and its meaning in 
what he further says, thus, — " Come up to the 
Valley of Jehoshaphat [i. e. of God*s Judgment] 
for there will I judge all the heathen round 

about Multitudes, multitudes in the Valley 

of Judgment" (Joel, iii. 12, 14.) This last name 
is rendered Valley of Decision in our public 
version ; and this is the passage on which is 
founded not only the current name which the 
valley bears, but the popular notion as to its 
being the scene of the final judgment. If these 
names — even that of Jehoshaphat — apply to 
any natural valley, it is by no means clear that 
they apply to the valley to which this note re- 
lates. We have, therefore, called it the Valley 

of Jehoshaphat, merely because it is the name 
by which, during a long series of ages, it has 
the most generally been described. 

These are not the only names which have 
been given to the valley, but all which have been 
given on such authority as requires our notice. 

( 2 ) The Cicer Field, p. cxxiii.— It seems 
that this legend is told with considerable va- 
riations. One account, nearly as prevalent as 
the other, relates the story of Christ himself, 
and is thus reported by Rauwolff : — 

" Before you is a large valley, which, al- 
though it be rocky, yet is fruitful both of corn 
and wine. In it, towards the right hand, near 
the road, is an acre called the Cicer-Field, 
which had its name, as I was informed, from 
the following transaction. It is said that 
when Christ went by at a certain time, and 
saw a man that was a sowing cicers, he did 
speak to him kindly, and asked him what he 
was a sowing there? The man answered 
scornfully, and said, ' He sowed small stones.' 
' Then let it be,' said our Lord, ' that thou reap 
the same seed thou sowest.' So, they say, that 
at harvest he found, instead of the cicer-pease, 
nothing but small pebbles, in shape and colour 
and bigness like unto them exactly. Now, 
whether there be anything of truth in it or no 
I cannot affirm ; but this I must say, that there 
are to this day such stones found in this field. 
For as we went by some of us went into it, and 
did gather a great many of them that were in 
bigness, shape, and colour so like unto these 
cicers (by the Arabians called ommos, and in 
Latin cicer arietinum) that we could hardly 
distinguish them from natural ones." 

The stock of these pebbles seems to be ex- 
hausted ; and with them the legend appears to 
have fallen into disuse, as the attention of tra- 
vellers is not now directed by their guides to 
this spot. 

( 3 ) Jacob's Bridge, p. cxxxiii. — This bridge 
takes its name (Jissr Yakoub) from a tradition 
that it marks the spot where the patriarch 
Jacob crossed the Jordan on his return from 
Padan-Aram. But it is also sometimes called 
Jissr Bent Yakoub, the Bridge of Jacob's Sons, 
which may suggest that the name is rather 
derivable from an Arab tribe so called. It is 
about two miles below the Lake Houle. The 
river here flows through a narrow bed, and in a 
rapid stream ; and here, to very remote times, 
has been the high road from all parts of Pales- 

Chap. V.] 



tine to Damascus. The bridge is a very solid 
fabric, well built, with a high curve to the 
middle, like all Syrian bridges. It is composed 
of three arches in the style of these construc- 
tions. Near this bridge, on the east, is a khan 
much frequented by travellers, in the middle 
of which are ruins of an ancient square build- 
ing, constructed with basalt, and having co- 
lumns at its four angles. This is explained by 
the fact that the khan is built upon the re- 
mains of a fortress erected by the Crusaders 
to command the passage of the Jordan. Its 
foundation is attributed to Baldwin IV., king 
of Jerusalem ; and William of Tyre states that 
it was erected in six months. The possession 
of so important a post was hotly disputed by 
the Moslems, and, after several unsuccessful 
attempts, Saladin carried it by assault, and 
caused it to be destroyed. The khan is the 
common rendezvous of the caravans to and 
from Damascus and Acre. A guard of a few 
soldiers is always maintained here by the go- 
vernment, chiefly for the purpose of collecting 
the ghaffer, or tax paid by all Christians who 
cross the bridge. This tax is ordinarily about 
ninepence a-head ; but the pilgrims who pass 
at Easter, on their way to Jerusalem, are re- 
quired to pay not less than seven shillings —at 
least it was formerly ; but, we believe, the dis- 
tinctive tax on Christians has been abolished 
by the Egyptian government, and that, instead 
of it, a general tax on laden beasts has been 
substituted. The Rev. R. S. Hardy only no- 
tices that — " A tax of three piastres is imposed 
upon every laden camel, two upon every mule, 
and one upon every ass. The tax was last 
year (1832) farmed for 20,000 piastres." 3 

( 4 ) The Simoom, p. cxliv. — Lucan had most 
correct information. His account of the de- 
serts of Lybia, and of the sand-storm which the 
Roman soldiers, led by Cato, encountered in 
their march through them, remarkably agrees 
with, and illustrates, the particulars we have 
stated. We cannot refrain from adducing a 
few passages : — 

" No leafy shades the naked deserts know, 
No silver streams through flowery meadows flow ; 
But horrors there and various deaths abound, 
And serpents guard th' inhospitable ground. 

No harvest there the scatter'd grain repays, 
But withering dies, and, ere it shoots, decays ; 
There uever loves to spring the mantling vine, 
Nor wanton ringlets round her elm to twine. 
The thirsty dust prevents the swelling fruit, 
Drinks up the generous juice, and kills the root; 
Through secret veins no tempering moistures pass, 
To bind with viscous force the mouldering mass; 
But genial Jove, averse, disdains to smile, 
Forgets, and curses the neglected soil. 

a ' Notices of the Holy Laud,' 1834. For the other particu- 
lars see Burckhardt, Tuylor, Skinner, &c. 

Thence lazy Nature droops her idle head, 

As every vegetable sense were dead ; 

Thence the wide, dreary plains one visage wear, 

Alike in summer, winter, spring appear, 

Nor feel the turns of the revolving year. 

Their herbage here (for some ev'n here is found) 

The Nasamonian hiuds collect around. 

Here all at large, where nought restrains his force, 
Impetuous Auster a runs his rapid course ; 
Nor mountains here, nor stedfast rocks resist. 
But free he sweeps along the spacious list. 
No stable groves of ancient oaks arise, 
To tire his rage, and catch him as he flies ; 
But wide around the naked plains appear, 
Here fierce he drives, unbounded, through the air, 
Roars, and exerts his dreadful empire here. 
The whirling dust, like waves in eddies wrought, 
Rising aloft, to the mid heaven is caught ; 
There hangs, a sullen cloud, nor falls again, 
Nor breaks, like gentle vapours, into rain. 

Thus wide o'er Lybia raged the stormy south, 

Thus every way assail'd the Latian youth. 

Each several method for defence they try, 

Now wrap their garments tight, now close they lie ; 

Now sinking to the earth, with weight they press, 

Now clasp it to them with a strong embrace ; 

Scarce in that posture safe, the driving blast 

Bears hard, and almost drives them off at last. 

Meantime a sandy flood comes rolling on, 

And swelling heaps the prostrate legions drown. 

New to the sudden danger, and dismay'd, 

The frighted soldier hasty calls for aid, 

Heaves at the hill, and struggling rears his head. 

Soon shoots the growing pile, and, rear'd on high, 

Lifts up its lofty summit to the sky : 

High sandy walls, like forts, their passage stay, 

And rising mountains intercept their way : 

The certain bounds which should their journey guide, 

The moving earth and dusty deluge hide : 

So landmarks siuk beneath the flowing tide, 

As through mid seas, uncertainly they move, 

Led only by Jove's sacred lights above." Rowe. 

Denon writes much about the simoom ; and 
from him we are tempted to cite the following 
passage, relating to the march of a party of 
Egyptian Mamelukes, who took the pass from 
the Kittah by the way of Redisi : — 

" This pass is never frequented by the mer- 
chants, and was fatal to the Mamelukes, who, 
by taking this road, lost their horses, together 
with a part of their camels, a considerable 
number of their attendants, and twenty-six 
women out of twenty-eight. Their march was 
traced by their disasters, and by what they left 
behind them, — tents, arms, clothing, the car- 
cases of horses starved to death, camels which 
were no longer able to support their burdens, 
attendants, and their women, whom they aban- 
doned to their fate. I figured to myself the 
sufferings of a poor wretch, panting with fa- 
tigue, and expiring with thirst, his tongue 
parched, and breathing with difficulty the hot 
air by which he is consumed. He hopes that 
a few minutes' repose will enable him to recover 
his strength : he stops, and sees his companions 
pass by, calling on them in vain for help. The 
misery to which each one is a prey has banished 

a The south wiud. 



[Chap. V. 

every compassionate feeling : they proceed on 
their way without casting a look on him, and 
follow in silence the footsteps of those who 
precede them. They are no longer in his view, 
— they are fled, — and his benumbed limbs, al- 
ready overpowered by their painful existence, 
refuse their office, and cannot be stimulated to 
action either by danger or by terror. The ca- 
ravan has passed: it appears to him like an 
undulating line in the wide expanse, and, be- 
coming at length a mere point, disappears 
altogether, like the last glimmer of an expiring 
taper. He casts around him his wild and 
frantic looks, but can see nothing : he turns 
them towards himself, then closes his eyes to 
shun the aspect of the terrible vacuity by which 
he is surrounded. He hears nothing but his 
own sighs, and fate hovers over him to cut the 
thread of his existence. Alone, and without a 
companion to do him the last offices, he is 
about to expire without one single ray of hope 
to administer comfort to his departing soul, — 
and his corpse, consumed by the parched and 
burning soil, soon becomes a bleached skeleton, 
which will serve as a guide to the uncertain 
steps of the traveller who shall dare to brave 
the fate that has befallen him." 

( 5 ) The Mirage, p. cxlvii. — All the pheno- 
mena of the mirage, which are in considerable 
variety, are usually regarded as examples of 
unusual refraction. " As a general definition, 
we may say the mirage is an optical illusion 
caused by the refraction of light through con- 
tiguous masses of air of different density, such 
refraction not unfrequently producing the same 
effect as direct reflection."* This difference 
of density may be caused either by moisture or 
by heat. Among mountains and near bodies 
of actual water it is often seen, and is then 
caused by moisture ; and in the dry sandy 
deserts by heat. In the former case it is most 
usually seen by night or in the morning, and 
in the latter during the heat of the day. As 
the desert mirage is that which engages our 
attention, we may observe, with more particular 
reference to it, that the case is there one of 
diminished density in the lower stratum of the 
atmosphere, caused by the increase of heat, com- 
municated by the rays of the sun to the sand, 
with which this stratum is in immediate contact. 

The following passage, for which we are in- 
debted to the 'Penny Cyclopaedia,' shows the 
application to most of the phenomena of the 
mirage : — 

" All these phenomena, and their various 
modifications, depend on the different density 
of the lower strata of the air, and, as this dif- 
ference of density may be occasioned both by 

* ' Penny Cyclopaedia,' art. ' Mirage.' 

heat and moisture, and as heat may be rever- 
berated from the mountain's side, as well as 
from the horizontal surface of the plains, from 
the sea as from the land ; and further, as con- 
tiguous columns of air, as well as horizontal 
strata, may be of different densities, it is easy 
to conceive why the mirage may be seen in very 
different situations, as also why it presents such 
varied appearances. It will also be evident that 
any cause which re-establishes the equilibrium 
of density in the different portions of the air 
must cause the illusions of the mirage to vanish. 

"Supposing the nature of refraction to be 
understood, the explanation of the way in which 
difference of density in different strata of the 
air occasions the mirage becomes very simple. 

Let A represent an ob- 
ject on a hill ; a b c d a 
stratum of air heated by 
the reverberation from 
the soil beneath, so as to 
have a less density than 
that of the air above. Now, 
if an observer's eye be at 
E, he will see the object 
by direct vision in its 
proper place, and also a 
reversed image of the 
same just below it at B, 
because the rays, coming 
from it obliquely towards 
the ground, are refracted 
from their direct course 
on entering the less dense 
inferior stratum of air, 
and, taking at first a di- 
rection inclining to the 
horizontal, are afterwards 
bent up so as to meet the e ° 

eye of the observer at E, who thus sees the in- 
direct image in the direction B, or exactly as 
it would appear if reflected ; and moreover, as 
the rays from that part of the heavens which 
form the background to the object are refracted 
in the same manner, the sky is reversed as well 
as the object, and presents the appearance of a 
sheet of water. 

" If the lower stratum of air be denser than 
the strata above, and the object be seen by 
direct vision through the denser stratum, then 
the curve or trajectory, instead of being convex 
towards the earth, will be concave, and the re- 
versed image will be seen as if suspended in 
the air above." 

How the appearance of water may be pro- 
duced ; how actual objects may exhibit a re- 
versed image in this apparent water ; and how 
distant objects may be elevated and brought 
near by such refraction, is thus capable of most 
satisfactory explanation. But there still ap- 

Chap. V.] 



pear to be some points which, in all the ac- 
counts we have ever met with, we have never 
found explained to our full satisfaction. For 
example, an apparent lake, surrounded by all 
the objects which a lake in such a climate might 
be expected to exhibit, may be seen in situations 
known to be at least 200 miles distant from 
any place where a real lake can be found. 3 
Is this the image of a real lake, brought near 
by refraction? Or is it purely an optical 
fantasy, produced in the manner which has 
been described? Considering that the point 
of view is low, and that the lake, if it exists, 
must be positively and comparatively lower, 
and taking into account the curvature of 
the earth in a distance of 200 miles, the 
first supposition gives a refractive power to 
the atmosphere infinitely greater than any 
accredited examples of apparent approxima- 
tion, by even " unusual refraction," would re- 
quire us to believe. The extent of the required 
power may be estimated by the fact that the 
curvature of the earth would alone exclude 
from view, at the distance of 200 miles, a 
mountain more than 20,000 feet high. Then 
as to the other alternative, although the ap- 
pearance of water may be produced by optical 
illusion, whence come the trees and verdure 
by which the lake often seems to be surrounded 

a Wollstcd's 'Travels in Arabia,' ii. 31. 

in deserts absolutely destitute of all vegetation ? 
The appearance of a body of water, and of 
water only, being produced in the manner de- 
scribed, — is it not possible that, in a region 
where water is always known to give birth to 
vegetation, the imagination supplies in these 
cases the customary association ? Or, in other 
words, that the appearance of water is a phy- 
sical, and that of trees and verdure a mental 
illusion. That all the members of a caravan 
see it does not render this unlikely ; — they all 
see the physical illusion of water, but we have 
no evidence that they all think they see sur- 
rounding trees and other objects, and still less 
that they see the same objects in the same 
spots with their companions. But great simi- 
larity of excitement among many men would 
be not only accountable but natural ; for a 
greater marvel than the mirage itself is offered 
in the psychological phenomenon of the similar 
influence upon many minds of a continued 
subjection to the same atmospherical modifica- 
tions, the same scenery, the same diet and 
manner of life, and, above all, the same priva- 
tions and desires. 

We are content to state this as an alternative 
to those whom the other explanations leave 
unsatisfied. The corroboratory considerations, 
for which we cannot afford room, will probably 
occur to the minds of most of our readers. 

--^—^Jm.^msS^ at 

[Plain of Acre. — See p. exxiii.] 



- ■ — - 



[The River Jordan.] 

If we sail along the coast of Syria and Palestine, we cannot fail to notice the mountain ranges 
which extend through the entire length of the land. We shall observe that they run parallel 
to the shore at various distances, but nowhere at any considerable distance from it. We shall 
then consider, that the streams which water the country before us, arise from springs in those 
mountains ; and, seeing that the course that they have to run must needs be short, and conse- 
quently that no time is afforded them to collect such tribute in their way as might give them 
importance, we shall infer that no stream deserving to be called a river can reach the sea. 
And when we further take into account the warmth of the low-lying country, and the want of 
rains in summer, we shall consider it very likely that there are few if any streams which con- 
tinue to flow all the year, or which, in fact, are other than winter torrents. As the other, or 
inland, side of the water-shed which these mountains form is unknown to us, and as it is 
reasonable to suppose that all its waters are thrown in an opposite direction — that is inland, 
or eastward — we shall not calculate on any accidents which may bring round to the western 
coast, through openings in the mountains, any of the perhaps more considerable streams which 
have their rise in the farther side of the water-shed. All these conclusions from the natural 
organization of the country, as viewed from the coast, would prove to be correct. Nearly 
all the streams which flow from the western water-slope are mere torrents, rendered important 
during winter and spring by the rains and melted snows, but the course of which can only be 
discovered during the remainder of the year by the rounded stones and fragments of rock 
with which their beds are filled. 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. cliii 

In all Palestine Proper not a single stream from a perennial source reaches the coast. It 
is only in the plains under the Lebanon mountains that such streams occur ; and even there, 
such as maintain their existence throughout the year shrink to mere brooks during summer. 
Two of the only three streams in Syria that can strictly claim the name of rivers do find 
their way to the western shore, although they rise on the eastern slopes : the third — the one 
that does not this — is the Jordan. 

The particular information, as to the geographical construction of the country, which we 
have already given, in the chapter on mountains, will enable the reader to understand that, 
when the summit is attained of the frontier range of which we have been speaking, it is 
found that the waters of the eastern slope have a still shorter run than those of the western. 
Instead of stretching off afar into the eastern plains, the waters of this slope fall short into 
hollow basins — plains or valleys — which slope northward and southward, and collect and 
carry off the streams in channels running parallel to the mountains, in the form of the three 
most considerable rivers which the country offers. The channels of these three rivers traverse 
the entire length of Syria. The course of two of them — the Leontes and the Jordan — is to 
the south, and that of the Orontes is to the north. The opposite courses of the Orontes 
and Leontes demonstrate that the highest level in all Syria is at that part of the Lebanon 
chain, which to this day bears the distinctive name of Jebel Libnan : for in the valley of Baal- 
bec, or on the lower slopes of these mountains, are the springs in which those rivers rise ; a 
and although the sources are not ten miles apart, they take opposite courses — the one to the 
north and the other to the south. The Orontes, impelled northward by the slope of the land 
in that direction, proceeds through the plains and valleys which are overlooked by the eastern 
slopes of the northern mountains, and owes all its relative importance to the fact that it has 
to traverse 150 miles before it can find an outlet to the Mediterranean. At last the chain of 
mountains terminates in Mount Casius, and then the river turns and hastens to the Mediter- 
ranean through the plain of Antioch. On the other hand, the Leontes, rising in the neigh- 
bourhood of Baalbec, hastens southward, and finds a much speedier access to the sea. It 
follows the course of the great Lebanon valley, keeping nearly in its centre, and passes through 
its opening termination towards the sea, which it reaches in the neighbourhood of Tyre, 
eighty-five miles from its source. 

The river Jordan rises nearly in the latitude in which the Leontes terminates. But this 
river never reaches any maritime shore ; — after traversing two lakes, its course is cut short, 
and its waters lost in a third — the Dead Sea. Its basin drains the eastern water-slopes of 
Palestine Proper ; but it drains them only of winter torrents, for all the country does not con- 
tribute one perennial stream to the Jordan. But it receives also the waters from the high 
eastern plains, and among these are the Jarmuch, the Jabbok, and the Arnon, — all of which, 
though their waters get very low, and almost extinct, towards the end of summer, are perennial 

Of these three rivers the Leontes is the least important ; and although in length of course 
the Orontes much exceeds the Jordan, its volume of water is so inconsiderable, that, were it 
not impeded by successive obstructions, it would be quite dry during the summer . b The 
Jordan is, therefore, entitled to take its place as the chief of Syrian rivers ; and perhaps this 
is distinction enough for it : but besides this, it may be said that for a line of nearly 3000 
miles along the coast of Africa and of Syria, no one stream, except the Nile, contributes as 
large a volume of water to the Mediterranean as the Jordan contributes to the Dead Sea, and 
that all Arabia has not one river comparable to it. Such comparisons as this, among similar 
things, are more just to the Jordan than those which it was some years ago fashionable to 
make, to its disparagement, as compared with the great rivers of Europe. Yet there are 

a It is true that both rivers originate in springs which rise both from Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, and which unite in the 
plain. Any of these may be considered the source ; and, in fact, the spring which is considered the source of the Orontes is on 
the Lebanon 'side, and that which is regarded as the source of the Leontes is on the Anti-Lebanon side near Baalbec. But the 
question of the highest water-level is not affected by the determination as to the particular springs which are to be regarded as 
the sources of the^e rivers. 

b SoVolney, i. 287, note. 

VOL. I. X 


many small rivers of Europe which, aggrandized by the Atlantic tides, appear of much import- 
ance, although, intrinsically, of little more consequence than the Jordan. But the dignity of 
the Jordan arises from other circumstances than the volume of its waters or the extent of its 

Seeing that the lakes of Palestine are intimately connected with the Jordan, their waters 
being, in fact, contained in enlarged hollows of its basin, it seems best not, for the mere sake 
of classification, to separate them from this natural connection, but to trace the river from its 
source to its termination, describing the lakes we have to pass in our way. 

When several springs contribute their waters to form a river, it is often not easy to say 
which of them is to be regarded as its source ; and perhaps the usual practice of selecting 
some one of them to be regarded as the source of the river in preference to the others, is 
nothing more than a convenient inaccuracy. It would seem that the spring which is most 
remote, and whose stream receives and is aggrandized into a river by the others which rise 
below it, has the best claim to be regarded as the source. But this is seldom the case; various 
accidental circumstances having, in most instances, operated to give the distinction to some 
one of the less remote springs. So, with respect to the Jordan, the stream which issues from 
the cave at Panias h s been usually considered the source of that river : but its claim to this 
distinction may well be disputed ; for, although very copious, it is by no means the most distant 
of the fountains of the Jordan. This opinion is by no means recent. Josephus mentions it 
as having been currently regarded as the fountain of the Jordan ; but that the stream which 
proceeds from the cave originated in it, began to be questioned in his time. It was held that, 
in reality, the stream which came from the cave was carried thither after some secret manner 
[subterraneously ?] from the lake of Phiala, which lake, as he states, lay about fifteen miles 
from Csesarea Philippi, a not far on the right hand of the road as one journies to Tracho- 
nitis. This lake had its name, Phiala [vial or bowl], by a very appropriate allusion to its 
cup-like appearance, its circumference being as round as a wheel. The water of this lake 
continued always up to the. edges without sinking or running over. That it supplied the 
stream which issued from the cave at Panias was discovered in the time of Philip the tetrarch, 
when some chaff which had been cast into the lake was brought by the stream out of the 

Little reliance can be placed on such an experiment as this ; and the conclusion deduced 
from it has not been supported by later observations. Indeed, in the first place, there seems 
to have been some difficulty in finding the lake of which the historian speaks. Seetzen, 
Burckhardt, and Irby and Mangles differ on this question. The lake which the latter found 
on their route by a new track, from Damascus to Panias, is the most important in itself, and 
agrees best in its situation and character with the intimations which Josephus offers. They 
describe it as a very picturesque lake, apparently perfectly circular, of little more than a mile 
in circumference, surrounded on all sides by sloping hills, richly wooded. The singularity of 
this lake is, that it has no apparent supply or discharge, and its waters appeared perfectly still 
though clear and limpid. A great many wild-fowl were swimming in it. Captain Mangles 
thinks, we doubt not justly, that this is the Lake of Phiala; but observes, that the alleged 
communication with the stream of Panias is impossible, as in that case the discharge must 
pass under a rivulet which some regard as the true source of the Jordan. We readily give up 
the alleged communication ; but we do not know that it is rendered impossible by the cir- 
cumstance stated. As the object of the chapter is to describe the various bodies of water in 
Palestine, it may be well to mention those which Seetzen and Burckhardt have mistaken for 
the Lake Phiala. The former places it two leagues to the east of Panias, and says that it now 
passes by the name of Birket el Ram. It is difficult to make anything of this : for while, 

a In its origin this town was probably the Laish or Leshem, which the Danites took from the Canaanites and called Dan. 
Heathen writers called it Panias. Philip, the youngest son of Herod the Great, having enlarged and improved it, and made it 
the capital of his tetrarchy, gave it the name of Caesarea, to which his own name was added, to distinguish it from the more im- 
portant city of the same name on the coast. The name of Panias is that which is still preserved in the form of Banias. The 
visit of Jesus Christ to this place is recorded in Mark viii. 

Chap. VI.] 



on the one hand, the distance is too small for the lake of Irby and Mangles, on the other, 
the lake which Burckhardt describes under the name of Birket el Ram is not east of Panias, 
nor two leagues from it, but upwards of twenty miles to the south-east, on the road to Jacob's 

Burckhardt informs us that what the Bedouins call the Birket el Ram, and the peasants 
Birket Abou Ermeil, is a reservoir of water, a few hundred paces to the south of the road, 
at the foot of Tel Abou Nedy, and is supplied by two springs which are never dry. One of 
these is in the bottom of a deep well in the midst of the Birket. Just by this reservoir are 
the ruins of an ancient town, about a quarter of an hour in circuit, of which nothing remains 
but large heaps of stones. Five minutes farther is another Birket, which is filled by rain- 
water only. The neighbourhood of these reservoirs is covered by a forest of short oak-trees. 
The rock of the mountain consists of sandstone and the basalt of the Haouran. Beyond these 
Birkets the road (towards Jacob's bridge) begins to descend gently ; and at a distance of 
about four miles from them, just by the road, on the left, is a large pond, called Birket Nefah 
or Tefah, about 200 paces in circumference. Some of Burckhardt's companions asserted that 
the pond contained a spring, but some denied it ; and from this he inferred that the water 
never dries up completely. " I take this," he adds, " to be the Lake Phiala, laid down in the 
maps of Syria, as there is no other lake or pond in the neighbourhood." He was evidently 
not aware of the lake which Mangles describes ; and he would, doubtless, have admitted its 
superior claims to that which he indicates. Indeed, none of these Birkets are at all in the 
situation indicated by Josephus, being about twenty miles to the S.E. and S.S.E. of the cave 
at Panias. 

[Supposed Source of the Jordan.] 

To that cave we now return. It is on the north-east side of the village of Panias. The 
spacious cavern under which the river rises is shown in our engraving. Over the source is a 
perpendicular rock, in which several niches have been cut to receive statues. The largest of 

a By a singular oversight, Irby and Mangles fancy that their lake is that described by Seetzen and Burckhardt under the name 
of Birket el Ram, observing, — *' It appears that this lake has only been remarked by Burckhardt and Seetzen ; those who have 
gone from Damascus to Panias having taken the route by Raehia and Hasbeya." But this was the route of Seetzen ; and Burck- 
hardt notices the Birket-el-Ram while travelling the lower route from Damascus to Jacob's Bridge. His Birket is full fifteen 
miles to the south of their lake ; and he takes no notice of any lake or Birket when travelling, on auother occasion, on a route 
partly parallel to theirs. 

x 2 


these niches is above a spacious cavern, and is six feet broad and as much in depth, with a 
smaller niche at the bottom of it. Immediately above it, on the perpendicular face of the 
rock, is another niche, adorned with pilasters, supporting a shell ornament. Here are two 
other niches near these, and twenty paces farther two more, nearly buried in the ground, 
at the foot of the rock. In the middle niche of the three represented in the engraving, the 
base of the statue which it once contained is still visible. Each of these niches has an inscrip- 
tion annexed to it ; but Burckhardt could only decipher part of one of them. The niche in 
the cavern probably contained a statue of Pan, from whose worship the place acquired the 
name of Panias, and the whole mountain that of Panium ; and in the other niches were pro- 
bably other statues with suitable dedicatory inscriptions. There are a number of hewn stones 
about the source of the copious stream which here rises, and which may, perhaps, as Colonel 
Leake conjectures, have belonged to the temple of Augustus built here by Herod. The stream 
flows on the north of the village of Panias, where there is a well-built bridge and some 
remains of the ancient town. This stream is called by Burckhardt " the river of Panias," as 
he doubted its claim to be considered the source of the Jordan. 

This traveller and some others would rather refer the source of this celebrated river to the 
spring which rises between three and four miles to the north-east of Panias. It is in the 
plain near a hill called Tel-el-Kadi. Here there are two springs near each other, one smaller 
than the other, whose waters unite immediately below. Both sources are on a level ground, 
among rocks of tufwacke. The larger source immediately forms a river twelve or fourteen 
yards across, which rushes rapidly over a stony bed into a lower plain. There are no ruins of 
any kind near the springs ; but the hill over them seems to have been built upon, though 
nothing now is visible. 

There is another stream, only noticed by Irby and Mangles, which, as being more remote, 
has a better claim, geographically, than either of the above, to be regarded as the source of the 
Jordan. It appears to rise from the southern slopes of Mount Hermon, at the distance of about 
twelve miles due east of the source at Panias. It was first noticed by Irby and Mangles, when 
they descended into a little plain, at the immediate foot of that mountain (Jebel Sheikh, or 
Mount Hermon), not long before they came to the lake Phiala. The stream " runs along the 
western side of the plain in a southerly direction, when its course turns more to the westward, 
and rushing in a very picturesque manner through a deep chasm, covered by shrubs of various 
descriptions, it joins the Jordan at Panias." That it does unite with the other two streams to 
form the Jordan is unquestionable, from the direction of its course; but that the union takes 
place at Panias seems very doubtful : at all events, it were to be wished that this assertion had 
been made by the travellers when they were themselves at Panias, rather than here, where it 
looks much like a conjecture. 

The fourth stream which requires to be noticed is that which rises at Hasbeya, and which 
has been slightly noticed in a preceding page (cviii). On geographical principles its claim to 
that distinction would not be disputed, as it is the most remote and considerable of the streams 
which form the river. It is twelve miles of direct distance to the north-east of the source of 
the Panias river ; and the road to Panias from that quarter lies through the valley of this 
stream. Its source is a large spring that wells out from the west side of Jebel Sheikh, near 
the village of Hasbeya, from which it takes the name of Moiet Hasbeya, or river of Hasbeya. 
There is a bridge over it at the village, and its banks are covered with numerous plantations of 
the midberry-tree. Its ultimate course has not been well traced. Buckingham, who kept it 
in view almost from its source to a point about three miles west of Panias, says that it is 
there as broad, as deep, and as rapid as the Jordan near Jericho. It is said to take its further 
course to the lake Houle without joining any of the streams which have been described, or 
the single stream formed by their junction. This, if true, would explain Iioav it happens that 
this stream was not regarded as the source of the Jordan. But even in case it does inde- 
pendently pursue its course to the lake, it might still be regarded as the source, if the name 
of Jordan be confined to the single stream which issues from the lake, leaving to those which 
enter it their separate denominations. 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. clvii 

Seetzen, who was not acquainted with the stream described by Irby and Mangles, thus states 
the relative claims of the other three : — " The ancients give the name of the source of the 
Jordan to the spring from which the Panias rises, and its beauty might entitle it to that name. 
But in fact it appears that the preference is due to the spring of the river Hasberia, so he calls 
it, which rises half a league to the west of Hasbeya, and which forms the longest branch of 
the Jordan. The spring of Tel-el- Kadi, which the natives lake for the source of the Jordan, 
is that which least merits the name." 

After this statement, and before proceeding to what may be called the history of the 
question, it is well to see the connection of these three streams as far as it has been ascer- 
tained. Mr. Buckingham's route from Panias was favourable to comparative observation, as 
it enabled him to take them all in succession, on nearly the same parallel, from east to west. 
His information is thus conveyed : — 

" We quitted Panias, and, going west for a little more than a mile, came to a small eleva- 
tion in the plain, with a flat space on the top, like an artificial mound. It is called Tel-el- 
Kadi. Here the springs of the Jordan (?) rise, rushing out of five or six places, rendered 
difficult of access by rushes, trees, &c. These springs are called by the Arabs Nubb-el-Etheari. 
They form, even here, a pretty large basin, and go, in a single stream, to the southward, 
passing by a place where there is a white tomb called Seedy Yooda Ibn Yacoob, and keeping 
near the foot of the eastern range of hills. This tomb is, perhaps, a mile to the south of the 
springs here described ; and two miles to the southward of that, the water of Panias, which 
keeps always east of the Jordan [the stream from Tel-el-Kadi] thus far, here joins it, and 
they go together into the Bahr-el-Houle, which is said to be six hours, though it looks not 
more than ten miles from hence. 

" We went up in a north-west direction from hence, and in an hour crossed the river 
Hheuzbhani a over a bridge of three arches, the stream being here both wide and deep, with 
steep rocky banks on each side. The river goes from hence southerly into a small lake called 
Birket Jehouly, about five miles to the south of this ; and, from thence it continues to the Bahr 
el Houley, — a much larger lake, — not mixing its waters with those of the Jordan till then." 

This passage is conclusive for the fact that the Hasbeya river is a large and important 
stream at a point between three and four miles to the north-west of Banias, and between two 
and three from Tel-el-Kadi. The concluding passage, which we have marked by italics, is, 
in terms, no less conclusive for the point that this stream does not join, or, rather, does not 
receive, the others till it reaches the lake Houle. It is on this authority that the course of the 
Hasbeya has been represented in our own and some other maps of recent date ; but rather 
because it is the only positive information which has been offered on the subject than that it 
is entitled to implicit reliance. It is to be regretted that the traveller does not state more 
distinctly the source of his information. He did not himself journey to the south of the 
bridge ; and he does not say distinctly that his statement is founded on a survey from a 
commanding position. Such a survey over all the country to the lake Houle may, from more 
than one point, be obtained ; and when he acquaints us that the lake looked not more than 
ten miles distant from Tel-el-Kadi, we are left to infer that his information concerning the 
course of the Hasbeya was so obtained. As it is, we consider this question remains to be 
settled positively. 

In favour of the conclusion that this river does reach the lake Houle alone, is the fact that 
some of the old Biblical geographers do make a tolerably broad river enter the lake Houle to 
the west of the Jordan ; but, then, their doing so is founded on what Reland seems to prove 
an erroneous interpretation of Josephus, and, accordingly, he rejects this stream from his 
map. D'Anville, however, restored it, and carried its source far off to the hills in the north- 
west ; and in this shape it has been preserved, even to our own time. Unless we suppose 
that this was founded on some information that a river actually did enter the Houle at this 
point, not much of confirmation for the independence of the Hasbeya is obtainable from this 

a This is certainly the same that Seetzen calls Hasberia, and Burckhardt Hasbeya. 


Against it is the fact, that no travellers who have been at the head of the lake Houle speak 
of any considerable stream, but the single one of the Jordan, as entering there. Pococke, 
Richardson, and Irby and Mangles, say not a word of any such stream. The information 
which the latter offer is most to the purpose, although somewhat negative. Departing from 
Panias, and " having been directed to follow the course of the Jordan, we endeavoured to 
perform that route. The beautiful wooded country does not continue more than two miles 
from Panias, when we entered into open, but rich plains. We found the ground very marshy; 
and, after winding about to find fords among the innumerable streams that water the plains, 
we crossed the Jordan itself. But the country on the other side was as full of marshes and 
ravines as that we had left, and in several places we nearly lost our horses. At length we 
succeeded in finding the road that leads to Safet, which runs at the foot of the hills on the 
other side of the plain." 

They travelled in early spring — the watery season ; and this extract will serve to remind the 
reader of the description of this plain which we gave in the preceding chapter. They crossed 
the Jordan between two and three miles above the lake; and, after that, they make no mention 
of crossing any other river, although, unless the Hasbeya had previously joined the Jordan, its 
stream must have been crossed by them after they had passed that river ; and the passage, in 
the season of overflow, of a river which, ten miles above the lake, appears as considerable 
as the Jordan near Jericho, could hardly fail to have been noticed. Yet the only answer to 
this which occurs to us is, that, at a time of the year when so many powerful torrents, which 
they found difficult to ford, rushed towards the lake, the river might have been passed 
without being distinguished from them ; and this is rendered the more possible by their not 
expecting to find such a river, as they appear to have entertained the opinion that the Hasbeya 
was one of the streams that joined the Jordan before entering the lake Houle. 

On the other hand, Buckingham's visit was at a more advanced season of the year, when 
the marshiness of the country and the strength of the winter-torrents must have subsided, 
and many of the latter had dried up ; and when, therefore, it was more easy to distinguish 
the course of such a river. So, upon the whole, there seems a doubt in the matter which it 
must be left for future observations to solve. 

After this statement as to the physical state of the question, the reader will be the better 
able to apprehend the questions connected with this matter which have been elaborately dis- 
cussed by the various writers on Biblical geography. 

Although Josephus speaks of the stream from Panias as the visible source of the Jordan, 
he yet mentions a Little Jordan and a Great Jordan. In one place he tells us that the marshes 
of the lake Samochonitis (Houle) extend as far as the place Daphne, which, in other respects, 
is a delicious place, and has fountains, which supply water to what is called little Jordan, 
under the temple of the golden calf, whence it is sent into the greater Jordan* The mean- 
ing of this was considered to be helped out by the statement of Jerome, b who says that the 
Jordan has its roots in Lebanon, and springs from two fountains, the one called Jor and the 
other Dan, and that the names join in the confluent stream. (') 

This statement has been repeated by various ancient and modern writers. Some of them 
were actual travellers ; but whether they speak after Jerome, or on their own information, it 
is not possible to find. The only one who professes to acquaint us with the distance of the 
two fountains is Philostorgius, c a writer of the fifth century, who makes it 160 stades, a dis- 
tance much greater even than that between Panias and the sources of the Hasbeya, but 
agreeing, even by remote approximation, only with these two, and showing that the distance 
was, at any rate, deemed to be greater than the mile which separates the sources of the streams 
of Panias and Tel-el- Kadi. 

On this information (excepting that as to distance) the old maps of Ziegler, Solinus, 
Adrichomius, Quaresmius, Fuller, and others, deduced one stream from some arbitrary point, 
and called it Jor, and another from the source at Panias, to which they gave the name of 
Dan. They made the distances, generally, too small for that between the sources of Panias 

" De Bell. 1. iv. c. 1. t See Matt. xvi. c Cited by Salinasius in a note on Solinus, cnj). xxxviii. 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. clix 

and Hasbeya, and too great for that between Panias and Tel-el-Kadi. a When these streams 
are made to unite, the name Jordan is given to the enlarged river formed by their confluence. 
In all cases they consider that the " Little Jordan " was that not coming from Panias. 

Lightfoot objected to this state of the question, with which he does not, however, indicate 
much acquaintance ; as he assumes that the theory of two originating streams arose from Jose- 
phus's mention of a great Jordan and a little Jordan, and are intended to represent them. He 
proves, at large, that both Josephus and the Talmudists place the spring of the Jordan at 
Panias, and name no other ; and that this Panias was at the springs of the "lesser Jordan," 
or, in other words, that, while Josephus distinctly traces the Jordan to the source at Panias, 
he as distinctly assigns that, and no other, as the source of the " lesser Jordan," without 
giving to the great Jordan any separate source. Thus, he alleges there is no authority in 
Josephus for two distinct sources of the Jordan, and seems unacquainted with the authority 
on which they were exhibited. He might well, therefore, express his amazement that the 
fountain of the lesser Jordan should be known, and that of the supposed greater unknown. 
He, therefore, concludes, — " We think, therefore, that Jordan is called the Greater and the 
Less, not upon account of two fountains, different and distinct from one another, but upon 
account of the distinct greatness of the same river. Jordan, rising out of Panias, was called 
Little until it flowed into the lake Samochonitis ; but afterwards coming out of that lake, 
when it had obtained a great increase from that lake, it was thenceforth called Jordan the 
Greater. Samochonitis received Little Jordan and sent forth the Great For since both that 
lake and the country adjacent was very fenny, the lake was not so much increased by Jordan 
flowing into it, as it increased Jordan flowing out of it." Therefore he represents the Jordan 
as a single stream, issuing from Panias, and called the Little Jordan from its source to the 
lake, and not, till it leaves the lake, acquiring the name of the Great Jordan. This view of the 
question received more authority and importance from its subsequent adoption by Reland. 

The greatly enlarged information which we now possess enables us to see a little more 
clearly into the matter than these old theoretical geographers. 

It seems to be proved that Josephus means the river of Panias by the Little Jordan, and 
that he describes it as running into another river called the Great Jordan, not as forming the 
Great Jordan by its junction with another river ; and, if the Great Jordan were not formed 
till the river leaves the lake, he would surely have described the Little Jordan as running into 
the lake, rather than as flowing into the Great Jordan. b His account, therefore, may be taken 
to concur in assigning two distinct sources to the Jordan ; and seeing that one of these sources 
is that which issues from the cave at Panias, the other only remains to be sought. 

If the river of Hasbeya does not pursue its course alone to the lake, but receives the stream 
of Panias in its way, the fact could not be unknown to Josephus, and we might deem this to 
be the Great Jordan into which the lesser runs. But if the claim of this river be regarded as 
doubtful, for the reasons which we have stated, then the river noticed by Irby and Mangles 
would seem to take the next place ; and the distance given by Philostorgius would appear to 
point to one of these rather than to any nearer source ; and his statement seems the more 
entitled to attention, as he was nearer in time to Jerome than any other writer who mentions 
the subject. We have, however, satisfied ourselves that later travellers, commencing two or 
three centuries after Philostorgius, considered the Jor and Dan as represented by the proxi- 
mate streams of Panias and Tel-el-Kadi. It is true they do not name the latter, or state the 
exact distance ; but their indications of proximity are too distinct to be mistaken. It might 
be well, however, to recollect that the Holy Land had, in the interval, fallen into the hands of 

" Fuller is an exception. He makes the distance just enough for that between the sources of Panias and Hasbeya ; and instead 
of calling the first Dan and the other Jor, as usual, reverses this order. In all the maps the second source is made to be east of 
that at Panias. 

b The following are the passages of Josephus which bear more or less on the question : — ' Antiq.' lib. v. cap. 2 ; viii. 8 ; xv. 13 ; 
xviii. 3 ; ' Do Bello,' lib. i. cap. 16; iii. 15 and 35; iv. 1. 

c Compare Willibald, (a.d. 765) ' Hodceporicon, et Vita,' in Canasius, torn. ii. Ill, 119 ; Arculphus in Adamn. Scotus, ' de 
Locis Sancta,' 1. ii. c. 16; Brocard (a.d. 1230) in Canasius, iv. 13; Baldensel (a.d. 1336) in idem, 352. Willibald, the earliest 
of these, is very clear on this point. 


the Arabians, in consequence of which the actual knowledge of the country had declined 
among European Christians, pilgrimages having become more rare, and travelling difficult 
and dangerous. It is easy, therefore, to conceive that the few who penetrated so far as Panias 
easily satisfied themselves that the two proximate streams were the two sources of the Jordan, 
the Jor and the Dan, of which they had read. It was so natural for them to conclude so, that 
it is likely they did it ; and, therefore, their conclusions are no evidence of more ancient 
opinions on the subject. 

Burckhardt informs us that the stream from Tel-el-Kadi still bears the name of Dan, or (as 
he spells it) Dhan ; and a little farther on, he adds, " I was told that the ancient name of the 
river of Banias was Jor (Djour), which added to the name of Dhan made Jourdan: the more 
correct etymology is probably Or Dan. Lower down, between the Houle and the lake of 
Tabaria, it is called Orden by the inhabitants : to the southward of the lake of Tabaria it 
bears the name of Sherya, till it falls into the Dead Sea." 

The question to which we have given this rather large portion of our attention is not of 
much geographical importance : but its critical and historical interest is considerable ; and 
the reader is so liable to be perplexed by the remarkable differences which maps and books 
exhibit, that this attempt to elucidate the whole question will, perhaps, be regarded as a useful 
service. It has also been our desire to make travellers acquainted with the points on which 
information is still wanted. 

The description given in the last chapter, and the incidental notices in the preceding para- 
graphs will give some notion of the enclosed land — the head of the Jordan valley — which is so 
abundantly watered by the perennial streams which we have described, and by the innumerable 
torrents which rush down in every direction from the surrounding hills from the middle of 
autumn to the end of spring. From these accounts we may understand the glowing terms in 
which it was described by the Danites from the thirsty south : — " We have seen the land, and 
behold it is very good — a large land — a place where there is no want of anything that is in the 
earth." b 

Before quitting it entirely, it may be well to state the leading geographical incidents of the 
northern portion of the valley which encloses the upper portion of the Jordan and two of its 

This valley, commencing at the roots of Anti-Libanus — or rather of that portion of it which 
bears the name of Jebel-es-Sheikh — takes the name of Wady Sezeban, or Steziban, and 
Buckingham says that it continues all the way to be so called, even to the Dead Sea, although 
the part south of the Lake of Tiberias is more frequently called El Ghor. He further states, 
— " The name of Jebel-el-Wast, which is applied to the Anti-Libanus of the ancients, extends 
even to the southward of the Jebel-es-Sheikh as far as Panias. From thence, southerly, to 
the eastern shore of the Lake of Tiberias is an even range of hills, called Jebel Jowalan, 
which, with the portion of Jebel-el-Wast from Hibl thus far, forms the eastern boundary of 
Wady Stezeban. The western boundary, which is also a range of hills of no considerable 
height or marked form, is called Jebel Jowaleen. The valley itself extends, perhaps, thirty 
miles from its commencement at Hibl to its interruption at the north end of the Lake of 
Tiberias, where the water occupies all the breadth of the plain. To the northward of the 
Bahr-el-Houle it varies in breadth from five to ten miles, and to the southward of Panias it 
seems well cultivated throughout. " d 

a Canasius, ' Thesaurus Monumentorum Ecclesiasticorum et Historicorum,' tom.ii. iv., as before cited; Adrichomius, * Theat, 
T. S.' 122 ; Quaresmius, torn. ii. lib. vi. cap. 4 ; ' Terrae Sancta; Descriptio,' authore Jacobo Zieglero, p. 21 ; ' Altera Descriptio,' 
authore Wolffgango Weissenburgio, p. 128 ; C. Julii Solini ' Polyhistor,' cap. xlviii. ; Lightfoot's ' Chorographical Century,' 
chap, lxvii. ; Reland, ' Palaestina,' cap. xliii.; Seetzeu, 16, &c. ; Burckhardt, 39-43, 314 ; Irby and Mangles, 283-290 ; Bucking- 
ham's ' Arab Tribes,' 401-406. It may prevent misapprehension if we state, that in this and other notes in which reference is 
made to Latin authorities, the names of the authors have always, unless through inadvertence, been intentionally reduced to the 
nominative. It has even been considered best to give the national name of the author, when it could be ascertained, freed alto- 
gether from its Latin disguises. 

b Judges, xviii. 9, 10. 

c This is not at variance with the statement already cited from Burckhardt : for what he gives are the names of the subdivisions 
of the river; whereas this applies to the valley through which the river flows. 

d Not " throughout," but to a very considerable extent. 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. clxi 

It should be observed that the distance from the head of the valley to the head of the Lake 
Houle varies considerably with the time of the year, as the dimensions of the lake are greatly 
contracted during summer. And although the spring of Panias rises from among the moun- 
tains which form the head of the valley, it is not at the head of the valley from which Buck- 
ingham computes. The proper head of the valley is about five miles to the north of Panias. 
The distance from the head of the valley to the lake is about fifteen miles ; but only ten from 

The B ahr-el-Houle a is called, in the Old Testament, " the waters of Merom," b and is 
celebrated chiefly from the defeat of the confederate kings of Canaan by Joshua on its borders. 
It is not mentioned in the New Testament. Josephus calls it the Lake Samochonitis, which 
appears to be a Greek rendering of the native name Samaco, which it bears in the Jerusalem 
Talmud. But in the same Talmud it is sometimes called " the Sea of Cobebo," while the 
Babylonian Talmud names it " the Sibbechean Sea." 

The dimensions of this lake are variously stated, probably in consequence of its different 
appearance at different times of the year. In the season of flood it seems almost to rival the 
Lake of Tiberias in extent ; while, by the latter end of summer, it has shrunk to about half 
its former dimensions. Josephus seems to make it seven miles long by half that breadth : ( 2 ) 
Pococke seems to allow this length, but says it cannot be more than two miles broad, except 
at the northern extremity : Mariti makes it six (Italian ?) miles long by four broad : Roger 
reduces it to one league long by a less breadth; while the latest observer, Dr. Robinson, 
describes it as eight or ten miles long by four or five miles broad, but adds, that the northern 
half is a mere marsh covered with tall reeds or flags. This observation was, it appears, made 
in June. At a more advanced season of the year, this mere marsh, to which the northern 
part of the lake is reduced in June, becomes quite dry, bringing down the dimensions to 
about the lowest estimate. On the other hand, the lake is not at the highest in June, but 
is then on the decline. Earlier in the year, the marshy northern portion is deep water and 
of greater extent. But by the time the northern half is dried up, the southern portion itself 
becomes little more than a marsh. The contraction is more in length than in breadth ; and 
by casting up the above estimates, it will appear that Josephus gave nearly the average 

The lake does not occupy the centre of the valley, It is much nearer to the eastern than 
to the western side. There is a space of about five miles between its border and the western 
hills ; but the distance from its opposite border to the eastern hills is much less considerable. 

In the marshes which surround this lake, or rather in the marshy parts of the lake, the 
reeds with which the Orientals write grow abundantly, as well as other reeds with which 
arrows and lances are made. The outer border is surrounded by shrubs and trees— many of 
them fruit-trees — which in the distance present the aspect of a forest. This is a resort of 
various wild animals when driven from the mountains by the snows of winter, or from the 
plains by the heat and drought of summer; but few of them make it their constant abode. 
Water-fowl are also most abundant about the lake, particularly on the marshes to the north. 

The banks of the lake are very low ; but the lake itself is on a considerably higher level 
than the Lake of Tiberias. It is inhabited only on the eastern borders ; and even there, if 
we rightly understand Burckhardt, there are only two villages, called Es-Seira and El-Deir. 
The south-west shore bears the name of Melaba, from the ground being covered with a saline 
crust. The lake abounds in fish, and its fisheries were, in the time of the last-named traveller, 
rented of the Mutsellim of Szaffud by some fishermen of that town. 

Pococke informs us that " the waters are muddy, and esteemed unwholesome, having 
something of the nature of the water of a morass. This is partly caused by their stopping 
the brooks on the west side, in order to water the country, so that the water passes through 
the earth into this lake : it is also, in some measure, owing to the muddiness of its bed. After 
the snows are melted and the water fallen, it is only a marsh, through which the river Jordan 

a We take this as the most received orthography. Buckingham spells it Houly ; Dr. Robinson Hiileh. 

b Joshua xi. 5. 

VOL. I. 


runs. The waters by passing the rocky bed towards the sea of Tiberias, settle, purify, and 
become fit for use." a 

The distance between the Lakes Houle and Tabaria is estimated by Pococke at ten miles, 
which agrees nearly enough with most other statements. In consequence of the higher level 
of the Lake Houle, and the narrow and rocky character of its channel, the Jordan flows down 
to the Lake of Tabaria with considerable rapidity and noise ; but in the two first and two last 
miles, its course is more quiet than in the intermediate distance. In this part of its course the 
stream is almost hid by the shady trees which grow on each side and make the prospect most 
delightful. The trees are chiefly of the plane family. 

Pococke travelled along the western border of the river and the lakes, from the town of 
Tabaria to the head of the Lake Houle. Dr. Richardson followed part of the same track, but 
turned off to the N.N.W. before he reached the southern extremity of that lake. The follow- 
ing, therefore, applies to most of that part of the river which lies between the two lakes. 
" The river is bounded by a chain of mountains [hills] on each side. On the east they rise 
up almost precipitously from the bed of the river. On the west there is a fine fertile vale, 
averaging about half or three-quarters of a mile broad, between the river and the mountain. 
The mountains on the east are bolder, and continue with little interruption all the way. On 
the west side, along which we travelled, the interruptions are frequent, and charming defiles, 
irrigated by small streams of water, pass off." After some time they came to a point where 
" the river passed through a small lake, which at first sight appeared to us to be a continuation 
of the Lake Gennesareth ; but when we obtained a view of it from higher ground, we were 
satisfied that it was not." From the description, this lake seems to have been about midway 
between Jacob's Bridge and the Bahr-el-Houle. We have felt much difficulty about this 
lake. There can be no doubt that Dr. Richardson saw it : but it is not mentioned by any 
other travellers, not even by those who have been in situations to overlook the whole course of 
the river between the Lakes of Houle and Tabaria; and Dr. Robinson, who in his journey 
particularly watched the statements of Richardson, distinctly affirms that between the two 
lakes " the Jordan flows in a narrow valley, and forms no intervening lake" This, we doubt 
not, is intentionally levelled at Dr. Richardson's statement. The only explanation which can 
remove this difficulty is to suppose that the expanse of water which this traveller tells us he 
saw, was merely a temporary exhibition in the season of overflow, at which time his visit took 
place, and which disappears when the waters fall. But in the present state of the question it 
seems best to wait for further information than to form any decided opinion. 

Leaving this question, it only remains to state that the Jordan ultimately advances to the 
Lake of Gennesareth in a widened but still rapid stream among the nebbek-trees and thick 
groves of oleanders to which it gives life. a 

The Lake of Tiberias is, from its associations, the most interesting body of water in the 
Holy Land — far more so than the Dead Sea, although the latter is considerably larger, and is, 
physically, much more remarkable. Neither of these lakes is mentioned or alluded to in the 
Old Testament as often as might be expected. In the New Testament the Dead Sea is not 
once mentioned ; but the name of the Lake of Tiberias very often occurs, as the town of 
Capernaum, on its border, was the usual residence of Christ, and the lake or its shores the 
scene of some of the most remarkable transactions of his life. 

It was usual for the Jews to call every natural expanse of water a sea, which name was even 
applied, partly by metaphor, doubtless, to the brazen reservoir — " the brazen sea" — which 
stood in the court of the Temple. Accordingly, the evangelists Matthew, Mark, and John, 
being native Jews, invariably call the Lake of Tiberias a " sea ;" but Luke, who was a native 
of Asia Minor, and whose geographical terms are always more distinctive, calls it generally 
a "lake." The present inhabitants, like those of ancient times, still call their water a sea, 

a Joseph, de Bello, lib. iv. cap. 1 ; Pococke, ii. 71; Roger, 68; Mariti, ii. 325 ; Burckhardt, 316; Irby and Mangles, 290 ; 
Buckingham, A. T. 309; Richardson, 450, 451 ; Dr. Robinson, in ' Am. Bib. Repos.' No. 34, p. 430. 

b Pococke, 72; Burckhardt, 514; Richardson, ii. 445, 446 ; Dr. Robinson, 430 ; Lindsay, ii. 91. 

c Fuller adjusts the matter in his own peculiar way : — " Indeed, among lakes, it may be accounted for a sea, such the greatness ; 
among seas reported for a lake, such the sweetness and freshness of the wuter therein." 

Chap. VI.] 



and reckon it and the Dead Sea to the south of them to be the two largest known, except the 
great ocean. 

It is mentioned by many names. The most ancient seems to have been that of " Sea of 
Cinnereth," a or, in the plural form, Cinneroth. b The Targumists, who sometimes accommo- 

[Lake and Town of Tiberias.] 

dated the old names to those which existed in their time, use " the Sea of Genesar;" some- 
times "of Genosor," or " of Ginosar." Josephus uses "Gennesar." The Talmudists 
employ the same names, but more usually call it " the Sea of Tabaria," J which is exactly the 
name it now bears, being the Oriental form of Tiberias. The evangelists employ both the 
principal names, " the Lake of Gennesareth," e " the Sea of Tiberias," f and, sometimes, " the 
Sea of Galilee," 8 from the bordering province, on the west, to which the lake was considered 
to belong. 

There was a city and district of the name of Cinnereth h on the borders of the lake from 
which it appears to have derived its name. 1 The name Cinnereth might easily pass into 
Gennesareth, which name, as applied to the lake, is expressly declared by Josephus to have 
been derived from an adjacent district, which district appears to have bordered on, if it did 
not include, Tiberias. The Jewish writers tell us that the district itself took this name from 
the delightful gardens and paradises which were there. Some make them royal gardens, 
deducing the name from CTlD *3J, geni sarim : " so that," says Lightfoot, " by the Jews' 
etymology, the name was taken from some royal gardens that lay upon it ; which may very 
well be, since Herod's palace was at Tiberias, and as from the royalty of that city the sea was 

a Num. xxxiv. 11; Josh, xiii.27; JV1J3- b Josh. xi. 2; xii. 3; jyp^. 

e Luke, v. 1. The et or eth, if not borrowed from the old name, may be regarded as a Greek termination for euphony. So 
in Hazsaeth, of which the proper Hebrew name is Nazar. 

{ John, xxi. 1. S John, vi. 1. h Josh. xix. 35. 

' "Others conceive that it is so named from Kinnor, a harp in Hebrew, which it is said in shape to resemble : sure the high 
winds sometimes make but bad musick (to the ears of mariners) when playing thereupon."— Fuller. 



called ' the Sea of Tiberias ;' so, possibly, from the orchards and gardens upon it, it might be 
called ' Genesar,' or the place of princely gardens." 

The dimensions of this lake have been differently stated by different authorities ; a and this 
is much more remarkable in the present case than in that of the Lake Houle, as the Lake of 
Tiberias has its boundaries very distinctly marked by the mountains by which it is enclosed. 
These differences doubtless proceed from the different experience of travellers in measuring 
distances by the eye. As experienced mariners can make the. best estimates, by the eye, of 
distances over water, Mr. Buckingham seems the traveller on whose opinion we should be 
most disposed to rely ; and he says, " Its greatest length runs nearly north and south from 
twelve to fifteen miles, and its breadth seems to be in general from six to nine miles." Dr. 
Clarke's naval friends also computed the breadth, from Tabaria to the opposite shore, at 
six miles ; of the length they made no estimate, as the whole extent of the lake is not visible 
from that place. Taking Buckingham's highest number, it offers, for the length of the lake, 
a fair average deducible from the other statements, particularly if we reckon that Josephus 
used not the Roman but the Greek itinerary stade in his measurements. 

Viewing the whole extent of the lake from its southern extremity, Mr. Hardy compares its 
figure to that of a boy's kite, or of a bird flying, which last seems the better comparison of 
the two. 

The Jewish writers enlarge in the most glowing terms on the excellencies of this lake, and, 
considering their limited materials for comparison, they had reason to do so. " Seven seas," 
says the Talmud, " have I created, saith God, and of them all have I chosen none but the 
Sea of Gennesareth." b Josephus dwells on the sweetness and softness of its water, of its 
pebbly bottom, and, above all, of the salubrity of the surrounding atmosphere. He affirms 
that the water was so cold in its nature, that its temperature was not affected by being exposed 
to the sun during the hottest season of the year. He also expatiates largely on the extraor- 
dinary fertility and valuable products of the land of Gennesareth, by which he evidently 
means the tract on the eastern borders of the lake. c All this praise of the water and so forth 
is allowed by modern travellers ; and what is said of the peculiar fertility of its borders is 
true to an extent which a more fitting place will require us to notice. 

Of all modern descriptions, perhaps that of Dr. Clarke is the best in conveying a general 
impression of the scene which is offered, from the summit and descent of the western moun- 
tains. It is true that, like many other of this ardent traveller's pictures, it is highly coloured 
and the shades skilfully softened ; but what he omits is easily supplied from other sources. 
His point of view was very favourable ; d and we observe that those who, like him, describe it 
as viewed from the hills, use much warmer language than those who picture it from the shore 

" A view was presented, which, for its grandeur, independently of the interest excited by the 
different objects contained in it, has nothing equal to it in the Holy Land. 

" From this situation we perceived that the plain over which we had been so long riding 
[from the west] was itself very elevated. Far beneath appeared other plains one lower than the 
other, in a regular gradation, reaching eastward, as far as the surface of the Sea of Tiberias. 
This immense lake, almost equal, in the grandeur of its appearance, to that of Geneva, spreads 
its waters over all the lower territory. Its eastern shores exhibit a sublime scene of moun- 
tains towards the north and south, and they seem to close in at either extremity ; both towards 
Chorazin, where the Jordan enters, and the Anion, or Campus Magnus, through which this 
river flows to the Dead Sea. The cultivated plains, reaching to its borders, which we beheld 
at an amazing depth below our view, resembled, by the different hues their various produce 
presented, the motley pattern of a vast carpet. To the north appeared many snowy summits 

a Josephus, 140 (some copies have 100) stades by 40 ; Pliny, 16 (Koman) miles by 6; Minister, 80 B. miles in compass; 
Bunting, 12 miles by more than 4 ; Roger, 6 leagues by from 2 to 3 ; Biddulph, 24 miles by 15 ; Sandys, 12 miles by 6 ; Hayes, 
10 or 12 miles by 4 ; Mariti, 18 miles by 6 ; Clarke, 6 miles broad ; Jowett, 20 miles by 12. 

b But it is possible that, as Lightfoot conjectures, this was invented for the praise of the famous Jewish university at the town 
of Tiberias, contiguous to the lake. 

c Joseph, de Bell. lib. iii. c. 10. 

J In fact, no one has described the lake from the same point of view, which was the top of the (so culled) Mount of Beatitudes. 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. clxv 

towering beyond a series of intervening mountains. We considered them as the summits of 
Libanus; but the Arabs belonging to our caravan called the principal eminence Jebel-el-Sieh. a 
The summit was so lofty that the snow entirely covered the upper part of it, investing all the 
higher part with that perfect white and smooth velvet-like appearance, which snow only ex- 
hibits when it is very deep." 

Continuing his way over the plain, before reaching the edge of the steep declivity which 
conducts down to the shore, the same traveller writes : — " The lake continued in view to our 
left. The Avind rendered its surface rough, and called to mind the situation of our Saviour's 
disciples, when, in one of the small vessels which traversed these waters, they were tossed in a 
storm, and saw Jesus, in the fourth watch of the night, walking to them upon the waves. 
Often as the subject has been painted, which combines a number of circumstances favourable 
to a sublime representation, no artist has been aware of the uncommon grandeur of the scenery 
memorable for the transaction. The Lake of Gennesareth is surrounded by objects well cal- 
culated to heighten the solemn impression made by such a picture ; and, independently of 
the local feelings likely to be excited in its contemplation, it affords one of the most striking 
prospects in the Holy Land. It is by comparison alone that any due conception of its appear- 
ance can be communicated to the minds of those who have not seen it. Speaking of it com- 
paratively, it may be described as longer and finer than any of our Cumberland and West- 
moreland lakes, although it be, perhaps, inferior to Loch Lomond in Scotland. It does not 
possess the vastness of the Lake of Geneva, although it much resembles it in certain points of 
view. In picturescpie beauty it perhaps comes nearest to the Lake of Locarno in Italy, 
although it be destitute of anything similar to the islands by which that majestic piece of 
water is adorned. It is inferior in magnitude and, perhaps, in the height of the neighbouring 
mountains, to the Lake Asphaltites ; but its broad and extended surface, covering the bottom 
of a profound valley, surrounded by lofty and precipitous eminences, when added to the 
impression under which every Christian pilgrim approaches it, gives it a character of unparal- 
leled dignity." 

From lower points of view, on the descent to the lake, and from the plain by which the 
lake is bordered, much of all this grandeur is lost ; and much that looks beautiful in the dis- 
tance becomes bald and barren in the nearer view. That nearer view is still grand, especially 
from the plain at the northern extremity of the lake. On the east rise the mountains, not 
precipitously, but rolling back from the shore, green and verdant after rain, but destitute of 
trees. On the west, hill rises above hill in beautiful succession, and the loftiest visible 
summit is crowned with a city, b whose commanding position is probably unequalled in the 
world. In two places the mountains here come down to the lake ; the rest is a beautiful and 
uncultivated plain — that rich and fertile " land of Gennesareth," which, for its combination of 
natural advantages — soil, scenery, climate, temperature — is, perhaps, exceeded by no other 
spot on earth. In winter and spring this plain is traversed by numerous torrents, some of 
which are so large and rapid as not to be passed without difficulty. " Nothing can surpass 
the beauty and grandeur of the surrounding scenery," says Elliot ; and he had travelled 

The feathered tribes seem to make the lake a favourite resort. Multitudes of song-birds 
harbour in the northernmost groves, and their innumerable happy voices mingle with the 
rush of waters, where the river hastens to the lake. The margin and surface of the lake 
itself presents large flocks of storks, wild ducks, and diving birds ; pelicans are not wanting ; 
while here and there vultures are assiduously engaged with their carrion prey : or eagles, 
heavily flapping their broad wings, rise to their aeries in the mountains. But when the heat 

H Jebel Essheikh, or Hermon, coucerniug which see p. xxxii. The lower points of view, from which most travellers describe 
the lake, do not take in this magnificent background; hence, perhaps, the comparative tameness of their descriptions. Stephens 
rather sneers at the comparison to the lake of Geneva, particularly on the score of the absence of a Mont Blauc ; whereas, in fact, 
the very presence of Mount Hermon, capped with snow, in the distance, probably first suggested the comparison to Dr. Clarke. 
Clarke was right in describing impressions from what he saw, and he did see the snowy Hermon ; and Stephens is right in describ- 
ing from what he saw — and he cuutd not see the splendid background which that mountain forms. 

*> Safet. 


of the summer sun — intensely concentrated on the borders of this deep basin — has absorbed 
all the moisture which the earth contained, and utterly dried up the green herbage which 
gave a cheerful aspect to the scene, the effect of the whole, in the entire absence of trees, is 
very different, — more dull, heavy, sad, but not less, perhaps, in unison with the general tone 
of feeling with which the Christian pilgrim is prepared to regard this memorable lake. Its 
surface is usually in a state of dead calm ; and, in the universal stillness, the gentle plash of 
its water upon the pebbles of the shore is distinctly heard, and is, indeed, almost the only 
sound that strikes the ear. Not a single boat of any kind is seen upon the lake ; and, now 
that the Arab has removed his tents to the higher country, the eye may wander around its 
borders in vain, seeking for any other signs of habitation than the mean town of Tabaria, 
and one or two miserable villages. The saddened traveller may gaze for hours over the scene 
without observing a single human being, or, indeed, any living creature, save the large water- 
fowl, whose sole presence tends rather to increase, than to diminish, the desolation of the 

How different this view from that which was presented to the eye about the time of Christ ! 
Then the borders of the lake were thickly populated, and the eye rested in turn upon 
fortresses and cities, towns and villages. There was not only the royal city of Tiberias, but 
the woe-doomed cities of Chorazin and Capernaum, both the frequent witnesses of His 
"mighty works," — the latter his most usual place of residence, — "exalted unto heaven" 
once, but now so utterly " cast down" that men know not where it stood. There also was 
Bethsaida, — " the city of Andrew and Peter," — Hippos and Gamala, a Tarichea and Beth- 
Meon, Ammaus and the strong Magdala ; doubtless with many other places of less note, the 
names of which history has found no occasion to preserve. Then, also, the surface of the lake 
was enlivened with the numerous boats passing constantly across, and from town to town, 
with passengers and goods, while the fishers launched forth to cast their nets in the deep 
waters. Then the shores were everywhere richly planted and cultivated, and offered numerous 
delightful gardens and paradises, while numerous people, busy or unoccupied, were seen 
passing to and fro ; and then, instead of this silence, were heard the voices of men calling to 
each other, the joyous shouts of happy children, the sound of the song and harp, the noise of 
the millstones, and the lowing of the herds upon the sides of the hills. Amidst the present 
vacancy and silence, the mind can better fill out the details of such a picture, than were the 
scene actually occupied with other and different objects than those which the imagination 
wishes to supply. 

As the waters of the lake lie in a deep basin, surrounded on all sides by lofty hills, except 
at the outlet and entrance of the Jordan, long-continued tempests from any quarter are un- 
known. This is also true, and for the same reasons, of the Dead Sea. But these same local 
features, which preclude any long agitation of its surface, render it liable to whirlwinds, 
squalls, and sudden gusts. But these, as in every similar basin, are of short duration, and 
the most furious squall is speedily followed by a calm. Winds from the south-east are those 
by which a boisterous sea is most usually raised in this lake. 

It has been affirmed of this — as of other lakes which receive and discharge a river — that 
the Jordan makes its passage through it without mingling its waters. b We only know that 
its course through the middle of the lake is distinctly marked. There is a current throughout 
the breadth of the lake, even to the shore ; and the passage of the Jordan through it is observ- 
able by the smooth state of the water's surface in that part. 

It is, probably, on account of this current that the old Jewish doctors decided that " the 
sea of Tabaria is like the gliding waters." It was once a mighty question whether those 
waters were fit for use in which unclean fish swam about with the clean ; and the conclusion 

a A few of these names are collected from the Rabbins. We do not hnow that Gamala was visible from the bed of the lake, 
but the mountain, from the shape of which it took its name (which means Camel), and on which it stood, is one of those which 
bound the lake. 

b " The river of Jordan runneth through the midst of this sea, and mingleth not therewith, but preserveth his own stream 
entire : which some impute to the swiftness, yea rapidncss, of his course, not at leisure to take notice of (much less to unite with) 
any water he meets in his way, before he comes to his journey's end at the Dead Sea." — Fuller. 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. cxlvii 

was, — " Flowing and gliding waters are fit, those that do not glide are not fit ; and the lake 
of Gennesareth is to he numbered with gliding waters." After the praise of its water, which 
has, in a former page, been adduced from Josephus, it may be well to add that it is perfectly 
clear and sweet, although it receives several hot saline springs, so impregnated with gases 
that they change the colour of the stones over which they pass. Dr. Clarice describes it as 
being clear as the purest crystal, sweet, cool, a and most refreshing to the taste. He swam to 
a considerable distance from the shore, and found it so limpid that he could discern the 
bottom covered with shining pebbles. Among these stones was a beautiful but diminutive 
kind of shell, being a nondescript species of Buccinum, to which he gave the name of Buc- 
cinum Galilceum. He and his friends amused themselves with diving for specimens ; and 
the very circumstance of their being able to discover 6uch small objects beneath the surface 
may prove the high transparency of the water. The lake generally presents a dark appear- 
ance, on account of the high mountains by which it is enclosed. 

The fishing operations upon this lake which were anciently of so much importance, and 
connected with which so many interesting circumstances are recorded in the New Testament, 
have altogether ceased. There is not, or was not very lately, a single boat upon the lake. 
There were none even in the time of D'Arvieux (1660). Hence the country derives no 
advantage from the immense quantity of very excellent fish which now, as formerly, the lake 
contains. A small supply is obtained by nets cast from the beach ; but this process is neces- 
sarily so unproductive, that, even at Tiberias, fish bears the same price per pound as meat. 
Most travellers have, naturally, desired to eat fish at this place, but have not always succeeded. 
Hayes was prevented by the Lenten prejudices of his Greek host ; b Irby and Mangles almost 
lived on fish, and praise it highly. According to them, there are excellent fish, but the variety 
is small. Stephens, in his journey along the shore, observes, " I thought to enhance the 
interest of this day's journey by making my noon-day meal from the fish of the Lake of 
Gennesareth ; and having on my way up seen a net drying on the shore, I aroused the sleeping 
Arabs, and they had promised to throw it in for me ; but when I returned I found that, like 
Simon Peter and the sons of Zebedee, ' they had toiled all the day and had caught' nothing." 
Elliot and his friend were more fortunate. They halted at the same place (near the presumed 
site of Bethsaida), and requested a man to throw his line and let them taste the produce of 
the lake. In a few minutes each of them was presented with a fish broiled on a plate of iron, 
according to the custom of the country, c and wrapped in a large wafer-like cake, a foot in 
diameter, of which one was spread as a table-cloth and two others served for napkins. 
" Thus," observes the traveller, " we made a repast, on the banks of the Sea of Tiberias, of 
what was almost literally " five loaves and two small fishes." d 

The Great Jordan, to which all general statements refer, may be said to be formed as soon 
as the river leaves the Lake of Gennesareth. The valley through which it passes to the 
Dead Sea has already been fully described (pp. cix., ex.) ; and it has been stated that the proper 
bed is a lower valley, about three-quarters of a mile in breadth, covered with high trees and 
the most luxuriant herbage. In the winter the swollen river inundates the plain in the bottom 
of this lower valley, but never rises to the level of the upper plain of the Ghor, which is at 
least forty feet above the level of the river. The wild animals which harbour during summer 
amid the shade and freshness of the lower valley are then obliged to ascend to the upper 
plain, and seek some other refuge for the winter. This swelling of the river, and the retreat 
of the wild animals before it, are more than once alluded to by Jeremiah. e 

The Jordan, even in this part of its course, is fordable in many places during summer ; but 

a '* In the water of the lake my thermometer stood at 70°, in the sun at 90°." — Fisk. This was in November. 

b The Greeks do not, like the Roman Catholics, indulge themselves with fish during their fast-days. 

c Luke, xxiv. 42. 

d Lightfoot, ' Chorog. Cent.' chap, lxx ; Roger, 62, 63; D'Arvieux, ii. 176, 177; Hayes, 125-130; Mariti, ii. 157; Clarke, iv. 
199-225; Burckhardt, 332 ; Buckingham, chap, xxvi.; Irby and Mangles, 295 ; Jowett, 172-176; 'Memoir of Rev. Pliny Fisk," 
Boston, U. S. 344-7 ; Hardy, 237-241 ; Skinner, ii. 283, 291, 292; Stephens, ii. 329-333; Elliot, ii. 342-350; Lindsay, ii. 89—93. 

e *' Thou land of peace, thou mayest have confidence ; yet how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?" xii. 5. '" Behold as a 
lion Cometh up, a strong one from the swelling of Jordan," xlix. 19 ; repeated in chap. 1. 44.— Blayney's Translation. 



[Chap. VI. 

the few spots in which it may be crossed during the rainy season are known only to the 
Arabs. On leaving the Lake of Tiberias it flows for about three hours near the western 
hills, and then turns towards the eastern, on which side it continues its course for several 

Dr. Richardson states that three streams issue from the lake, which soon unite to re-form 
the Jordan. This was in May ; and the circumstance is not noticed by other travellers, who 

[The Jordan leaving the Lake.] 

describe the issuing river as a single stream. The Jordan rushes from the lake with consi- 
derable force in a stream which is about fourteen yards across at the end of April. There are 
some remains of a bridge, a little below, but the stream is now crossed at this point in a crazy 
ferry-boat. It will be recollected that there were ferry-boats on the river in the reign of 
David. a We find no notice of its being in use later than April : so it seems probable that the 
river cannot here be forded in winter and early spring, when, of course, the river must even 
there have its volume of water greatly increased by the rise of the waters in the lake. 

In May (15th) we find it said that at this place the stream " is now forded by the Arabs, 
who swim their animals across." b The Rev. P. Fisk, who was here in November (11th), and 
rode a little way down the bank, says, — " The river bends often, and varies much in width, 
perhaps, from 30 to 100 yards. It is so shallow, that cattle and asses were fording it without 
difficulty." Mr. Buckingham states the stream to have been " barely fordable " at two or 
three miles below the lake, in the beginning of February, and that it had then and there a 
current of about two knots an hour. 

The river appears to diminish its speed as it proceeds. One of the fords, practicable even 
in February, occurs about four miles below the lake. There, however, the water is so deep 
near the banks as to throw the horses off their legs and oblige them to swim : but they regain 
their footing as they approach the middle of the stream ; and in the very centre it is found to 
be quite shallow. 

a " There went over a ferry-boat to carry over the king's household, and to do what he thought good," 2 Sam. xix. 18. 

b Maddox, ii. 251. 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. clxix 

About ten miles below the lake, there is a large stone bridge of one large and two small 
arches. The river has here a considerable depth of water, and is about forty feet wide. The 
water is of a white sulphureous colour, but without any unpleasant smell or taste, and it rolls 
over a very stony bed. A little above the bridge the stream is smoother and the bottom 
more practicable than in its immediate neighbourhood. 

About ten miles below this bridge, and twenty below the lake, we come opposite the town 
of Bysan, a which stands ab^ut two miles from the river to the west. In this neighbourhood 
there are two or three fords over the Jordan. Indeed the river is here so generally fordable, 
that, in ancient times, as now, it was much crossed in this direction. It is, however, not 
usually forded opposite the town, but about three miles lower down. Here it was crossed by 
Captain Mangles, who observes (March 12) that the stream is much more swift here than it 
is nearer to the Lake of Tiberias. The depth at the ford reached above the bellies of the 
horses; and the measured breadth was found to be 145 feet. Burckhardt, who crossed 
above two miles lower down in the midst of summer, found the river eighty paces broad and 
about three feet deep. b 

We proceed southward from this point for as much as twenty-seven miles (direct distance), 
without finding any point where the river has been visited or crossed by any modern travellers; 
and this important central tract, with the country on either hand, may be pointed out to future 
travellers as a part of Palestine absolutely unvisited, and therefore undescribed, although it is 
a portion of the country in which some valuable discoveries relating to ancient sites might very 
probably be made. 

We become acquainted with the Jordan again at a point about twenty miles to the north of 
the Dead Sea. It was here crossed by Captains Irby and Mangles at the latter end of 
March. c Approaching the river from the east, they observe, " The plain, from the foot of the 
mountains, is about half way pretty level, but barren ; thence it becomes rugged, consisting of 
a quantity of hills, vales, and deep chasms, in a dry soil of very white appearance, and of a 
saltish nature : this continues to within a quarter of a mile of the river's bank ; whence the 
rest is a rich flat plain to the margin of the river, which is in the bottom of a deep ravine, 
beautifully wooded, and so overgrown, that the stream is not seen till you are close to it." 
They found the river quite swollen, and it was not without much delay and difficulty, and 
some danger, that they were able to cross, and then only by swimming their horses. 

Another place of passage, about four miles below this, has been fully described by Mr. 
Buckingham. The great vale of Jordan is here about ten miles across, from the eastern to 
the western mountains, while the lower valley in which the Jordan runs, is, as far as observed 
from this point, about a mile wide in its widest parts and a furlong in the narrowest. 
Descending into this, the white chalky cliffs on either side appear to be about 200 feet high.. 
The river flows through the midst of the lower vale, between banks which are fourteen or fif- 
teen feet high ; but this is when the stream (January) was at its lowest ebb ; for there are 
indications that, when swollen by rains, it may overflow its banks sufficiently to inundate the 
lower plain, though it could never reach the upper one. The stream appeared, at this place 
and at this season, to be little more than twenty-five yards in breadth, and so shallow as to be 
easily forded by horses. The banks are thickly lined with tall rushes, oleanders, and a few 
willows. The stream is extremely rapid ; the waters tolerably clear, from its flowing over a 
bed of pebbles, and is pure and sweet to the taste. Mr. Buckingham inquires whether the 
Israelites did not cross the river at this point, but we think it must have been lower down. 

The place where Christ received baptism from the hands of John the Baptist is that which 
has for ages engaged the interest of the Catholic and Oriental Christians ; and which has been 
far more frequented than any other part of the river. Indeed the spot has, from the most 
remote times until now, been a place of annual pilgrimage, at Easter, to thousands of Chris- 
tians from all parts of the world. d The true site of this interesting event is, however, probably 

a The Scriptural ' Bethshan,' and the classical ' Scythopolis.' To the walls of this towu the Philistines fastened the 
Saul. 1 Sam. xxxi. 10. 
b Kichardson, ii.425; Irby and Mangles, 304 ; Burckhardt, 345. 
c Irby and Mangles, 326; Buckingham's ' Palestine,' i. 90—93. d See the cut at the head of this chupter. 

VOL. I. Z. 


not known. The Catholics disagree with the Greek and Oriental Christians on this point. 
The latter place the site three or four miles further towards the Dead Sea than the former ; 
and this is so far happy, as it prevents interference in their pilgrimages to and their ablutions 
in the sacred stream. The Catholics place the site about seven miles from the Dead Sea, the 
Greeks not more than four. Some confusion arises from the indistinct manner in which tra- 
vellers speak of the place of pilgrimage, without stating which of the two places they mean. 
But this may be sometimes collected from circumstances. The old travellers invariably speak 
of the place which the Catholics have chosen ; while those of more recent date more commonly 
have in view the point, lower down, which the Orientals prefer to consider as " the place 
where John was baptising." To both parties, the places to which they respectively repair, is 
of additional interest to them, from the belief that the place where Christ was baptized was 
that also where the Israelites crossed the river. And this is not unlikely ; for John is said to 
have been baptizing at " Beth-abara beyond Jordan," and Beth-abara means " the house of 
passage," with a very possible reference to the passage of the Israelites at that place. 

Both points are two of the most beautiful places on the river ; and as there seems little 
difference in the appearance of the stream or its banks, we shall be content to notice that 
which is nearest the Asphaltic Lake, and which has been the most frequently visited and 
described. But it may enliven these details if we join the annual pilgrimage in its visit to 
this spot, taking that of 1837, which has been so well described by the Rev. C. B. Elliot. 

The cavalcade consisted of about 3000 Greek and Oriental pilgrims from every part of the 
world where the eastern churches have members, together with muleteers, camel-drivers, 
Turkish and Arab soldiers, and half-a-dozen Frank travellers, who swelled the amount to 

" On these occasions every beast in Judea is put in requisition ; and horses, donkeys, mules, 
ponies, and camels, flocking from all quarters, throng Jerusalem for several days previous. 
The young and the aged are placed in panniers on either side of a camel : women who never 
before mounted a horse now cross themselves in an orthodox manner (for their safety depends 
on the exact mode of forming the cross!), and stride manfully the saddle : boys and girls are 
seen siding two and two, beguiling the length of the journey with an occasional dispute as to 
which shall sit on the pad, and which on the less comfortable back-bone of the beast, sharpened 
by a perpetual fast. Hundreds who cannot afford to ride, having already bestowed on the 
priests the earnings of many years, trudge on foot ; at first briskly leading the way, then 
merged in the equestrian cavalcade, till at length they are worn out with fatigue, and their 
pilgrim staves bring up the rear. A singular variety of costume characterises the barbarous 
Russian, the sportive Athenian, the patriotic islander, the Greek priest, the austere Armenian, 
the poor Copt, and the dark-skinned Syrian ; while all these blend picturesquely with the 
uniform of the Turkish and Arab cavalry, who gallop their well-trained horses up and down 
among the motley crowd, now urging them to full speed, and now suddenly curbing them 
with a rapidity that excites as much alarm as admiration." 

We cannot afford to follow Mr. Elliot through all the details of the journey; although they 
are well worth perusal, as forming, altogether, the best description we possess of this pilgrim- 
age. The caravan usually arrives towards evening in the neighbourhood of Rihha (the sup- 
posed) Jericho, and encamps near the stream which flows by, issuing from a spring, supposed 
to be the same which the prophet Elisha healed : — 

" A little after midnight the pilgrims put themselves in motion, in order to reach by sunrise 
the banks of the sacred river ; but it is no easy matter to start a caravan of 5000 persons, and 
it was three o'clock, a.m., before the cavalcade was in progress. A number of torch-bearers 
preceded, carrying flambeaux, which threw a wild blaze of light over the plain and the moving 
host. The Arab cavalry marched next, their spirited horses curveting, while they plunged 
into the high grass and jungle, to drive out any lurking Bedouins ; the governor, with the 
Greek archbishop, followed; and lastly the whole host of pilgrims, hurrying along with anxious 
expectation to wash in a stream which they vainly suppose to be endowed with a cleansing 
moral efficacy. In such a multitude, moving without order, subject to no discipline, and 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. clxxi 

wrought up to an unnatural pitch of excitement by superstitious zeal, it is not surprising that 
many accidents occur. Some of the party are generally left dead, many are wounded, and 
all are kept in a state of feverish alarm for their personal safety. One thing struck us forcibly, 
— the entire absence of sympathy among these professors of piety. If an aged man, a feeble 
woman, or helpless child fell from his seat, no friendly hand was stretched out to aid, and no 
fellow-pilgrim halted to ascertain the extent of injury received. The groans and cries of the 
sufferer were responded to by a laugh, and the cavalcade moved on regardless of their brother, 
who, if he met with sympathy and aid, found it at the hand of some ' good Samaritan,' united 
to him by no ties of country or of faith. 

" The sun arose above the mountains of Moab just as we reached the Jordan, after a ride of 
more than two hours over a tract utterly steril, deserted even by the samphire and low shrubs 
which appear on other parts of the plain. Instantly a rush was made, and the pilgrims, young 
and old, rich and poor, sick and sound, men, women, and children, plunged into the stream. 
Some of the females and children, however, evinced a degree of nervousness, and here and 
there the father of a family might be seen gently chiding his spouse, or more roughly handling 
his young ones ; now religiously forcing the head of a little girl under the water, and now 
struggling with a well-grown urchin, whose fears had got the better of his love of pilgrimage. 
Of the men, some jumped boldly in, communicating a rotatory motion to the body as it passed 
through the air ; a few considerately occupied themselves in aiding the weaker sex, rendering to 
a tottering mother or timid sister the support of filial or fraternal strength ; others resigned 
themselves composedly to the priests, who, standing like the Baptist in the river, poured the 
sacred water three times on the head of the devotee. All were clad in their winding-sheets, 
or, to speak more correctly, all carried with them, either attached in some way to the body, or 
held loosely in the hand, the piece of cloth with which they wished to be enveloped after death, 
for to make certainty more sure, the hajee, who has preserved the taper once touched by the 
holy fire, a secures likewise a winding-sheet dipped in Jordan, which possesses an equal charm, 
and is supposed to protect from the power of the devil both the corpse so shrouded, and the 
spirit that shall reanimate it. Some of these promiscuous bathings are occasions of great 
indecorum, but, in the present instance, we saw no more than the ghat of every populous town 
on the Ganges exhibits daily. When, however, the scene is contemplated as a religious cere- 
mony, and when the Turkish governor is observed, with his Moslem satellites, ridiculing with 
proud disdain these vain ablutions, and this violation of female modesty, the Protestant cannot 
but lament the errors of those who, like himself, profess the faith of Christ, and the consequent 
degradation of that sacred name in the eyes of infidels." b 

The bed or valley of the river, as distinguished from the plain, exhibits in this quarter a 
series of terraced depressions from the plains of Jericho to the stream. The first occurs about 
a mile and a half from the Jordan, where a descent of about eight feet is made. This descent 
is rather irregular, the edges of the strata much washed, and there are many irregular masses 
of earth along the edge, that have resisted the wastings which removed the strata to this extent. 
The whole surface of this part of the plain is very destitute of vegetation. At the distance of 
about three quarters of a mile there is another depression, nearly as considerable as the 
former, the edge of which has much the same washed and irregular appearance. The land, 
or vale, which is now entered, has many of those irregular mounds of earth which have been 
mentioned as lying along the water's edge of the former descent. A recent American traveller, 
who has given the best, or, indeed, the only description of these appearances, says : — " It 
looked as if the whole plain had once been on a level with the part above the first descent, 
and that a sweeping torrent, extending out to where the first bank is, had passed over it, and 
swept away about ten feet of earth, except a few hard spots near the edge ; then, that another 

a This alludes to the shocking imposition practised by the priests upon the people on Easter-day, in the church of the Holy 
Sepulchre, whereby they are made to believe that a light, kindled by some artificial means within the Sepulchre, and produced . 
to their admiration and reverence, has been the result of a miracle. 

t> Elliot, i. 74— 77 

c The Rev. J. D. Paxton, whose very instructive little volume of ' Letters on Palestine,' has been re-published in this 

z 2 


torrent had come down, reaching out only to the place where the second bank is, and within 
its range had carried off ten or twelve feet of earth, leaving a large number of spots that 
resisted its force; for tbe mounds between the first and second banks nearly agreed in height 
with the plain above that bank, while those below the second bank agreed in height with the 
land between the first and second banks." From this traveller's further account it appears, 
that in the space between the second and third banks, much of the ground looked as if it was 
often covered with water, like the dried mud on which water has long lain, thus evincing that 
the Jordan sometimes overflows its proper channel to this extent. This is not the general 
character of the district. There are in many places small bushes, and in some parts a con- 
siderable crop of weeds. There is a third descent to what may be considered the immediate 
bank of the stream in its ordinary channel. It is about the same depth as the former; and 
on and near this last bank, down to the water's edge, there are numerous bushes and small 
trees of the kinds already noticed. 

The terraced appearances here described are very common where rivers, subject to periodical 
overflows, traverse a plain, the soil of which may be easily disintegrated or undermined by the 
action of water. It certainly seems to us to prove that the Jordan, in its annual overflows, 
once reached to the upper water-mark. That it does not do so at this time may be owing to 
the stream (which is here very rapid) having worn itself a deeper channel than of old. 
These different banks, so distinctly marked, are probably of old origin, and if they existed 
when the Israelites crossed the river, we obtain a clearer and more intense meaning from the 
explanation that " the Jordan overfloweth all its banks at the time of harvest." a 

It is singular that no travellers have visited the river at the time when they might fairly 
expect to see it in its most enlarged condition. This is owing to their visits having been 
generally paid in company with the pilgrim caravan, for the sake of the protection thus 
obtained. Maundrell, and others after him, are wrong in expecting that if the river were at 
all much enlarged in our day, thai would be the time of the year to find it overflown. In the 
cases of rivers, the overflow of which is caused by the melting of the snows in or near which 
they have their source, we have always found the season more advanced before this effect 
takes place, as is indeed obvious from the increased warmth which is required to dissolve the 
immense quantities of snow which have been deposited upon the mountains. We should expect, 
therefore, to find the river-flood rather in May than in March or the early part of April. This 
is the case with the Euphrates, Tigris, and other rivers liable to increase from the same cause; 
and this, by-the-bye, incidentally corroborates the statement in a preceding page, that April, 
rather than March, was anciently the initial month of the Hebrew year, for, according to that, 
the " tenth day of the first month" (or say, of the first moon after the vernal equinox) brings 
the time of overflow forward, in accordance with the statement we have just made ; and in 
reference to this statement we have the satisfaction to find Lord Lindsay say, that in June 
"the upper bed of the river was still moist from the floods." By the "upper bed" we 
presume he intends to indicate that which Paxton describes as being covered with alluvial 
sediment. Now that travellers are beginning to visit the river at different times of the year, 
we may soon hope for more positive information on the subject. b 

Several streams in Palestine, which are absolutely dry in summer, become large and 
powerful streams in the season of flood, and there is not the least reason to question that there 
is still — since the physical causes still endure — a corresponding increase in the stream of the 
Jordan during the same season. The difference in the appearance of rivers liable to this 
periodical increase, when overflown, and when in its ordinary state, cannot perhaps be better 
illustrated than by reference to the vast difference in the appearance of many of our own rivers, 
near their estuaries, when the tide is at ebb and when at flow. 

The breadth and depth of the Jordan, in its ordinary condition, at the place where we have 
so long detained the reader, are not very considerable. But both the breadth and depth 01 

a Josh. iii. 15. 

t> Since this was written, we have found the conclusion we have hazarded confirmed in Dr. Robinson's account of his recent 
journey. He was at the Jordan in the middle of May —the time of wheat harvest in the valley of the Jordan — and found it there 
overflowing the banks of its ordinary channel. 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. clxxiii 

this river varies so greatly in different parts of its course, that no general inference is to be 
deduced from that circumstance. Indeed, this spot is, properly speaking, one of the fords of 
the river, and therefore more practicable, both as to breadth and depth than other points, above 
and below. As to the breadth here, accounts vary between twenty and thirty yards, and an 
average may therefore be struck at twenty-five. The depth is not so well ascertained. Shaw 
says, three yards at the brink ; but it does not appear at what point he made this observa- 
tion. Maundrell, who certainly was at the Catholic place of ablution, says, that its depth 
was there greater than his height. Mr. Paxton, who was at the lower point in the month of 
October, thought it might then have been forded but for the rapidity of the current ; and Mr. 
Arundale, who was there in the same month, actually represents it as being forded, in the 
drawing (furnished by him) at the head of this chapter. Mr. Paxton, notwithstanding the 
strong current, swam across the river and back again in safety ; and in the same month of 
October, the Marquis of Waterford performed the same feat " without difficulty." We sus- 
pect, however, that this could not be done at the time of pilgrimage in early spring, when the 
stream appears to be fuller, and the current stronger than in the fall of the year. At all 
events, the current is then so strong, that, according to all accounts, many of the pilgrims are 
swept away by it ; and although most of them save themselves, by getting hold of the willows 
or bushes that overhang the stream, a year seldom passes in which some of them are not 
drowned. a 

The water has here, and for the remainder of its course, a muddy, or, as some describe it, a 
sulphurous white appearance, derived, it would seem, from its having passed through beds of 
sandy clay. It is, however, very wholesome, always cool, and nearly tasteless. Although 
passing through some saline tracts, it does not contain more than one three-hundredth of its 
weight of salts ; but these are of the same kinds which are found more abundantly in the 
waters of the Dead Sea. 

Such travellers as have proceeded from this point to the head of the Dead Sea, have gene- 
rally journeyed at some distance west from the river. Mr. Stephens, however, tracked it 
down to the lake, following all its flexures. He states that below the place of pilgrimage, 
there is no point on the river that offers any natural attractions to the traveller. The stream 
contracts to about thirty paces wide a little below the place of bathing, but again widens as it 
approaches its termination. Speaking generally of this portion of the river, Mr. Stephens says, 
" It is a small, broken, and muddy stream, running between banks of barren sand, without 
beauty or verdure ; and if it were not for the associations connected with it, a man would turn 
from it as the most uninteresting of rivers." This, it will be remarked, is the observation of 
an American, accustomed to magnificent rivers : — but we will not repeat what has been said 
on this point, in a preceding page. This traveller in one place saw some Arabs wading across ; 
and yet the river, as far as he could judge, had not fallen more than two feet. — " For the last 
two or three miles it runs between perpendicular banks of sand, from five to ten feet high, 
and its pure waters are already contaminated by the pestiferous influence of the bituminous 
lake. On the left it stops even with the shore ; but on the right the bank runs out to a low, 
sandy point, round which a quantity of drift wood is collected ; and here, with a gentle ripple 
of its waters, the Jordan enters the Dead Sea." If this account is different from others, it is 
doubtless because of the difference, at different times of the year, to which we have already 
adverted. Thus Mr. Jolliffe describes the stream as being, at its embouchure, deep and rapid, 
rolling a considerable volume of waters into the Dead Sea. Its width appeared to him to be 
from 200 to 300 feet. b The current was so violent that a Greek servant who attempted to 
cross it, though strong, active, and an expert swimmer, found it impracticable. This was the 

a " While I was looking on, two men, a Russian and a Greek, were overpowered by the torrent, and as neither of them could 
swim, they clung to each other, and were soon under water. The Russian was entangled among the roots of trees, and rose to 
the surface ; but though he seized some overhanging branches, with the grasp of a perishing man, the current was ton strong, and 
he was again carried away by the stream. He was, however, saved at some distance lower down, but the Greek was never seen 
after he first sunk. I was told that a Turk was also drowned at the same place, but I did not witness the circumstance. It ex- 
cited little attention among the people, and they continued to enter the water with the same fearlessness as before." — Hardy's 
' Notices of the Holy Land.' 

b Mr. Robinson says about fifty yards. 



[Chap. VI. 

more to be regretted as he was to have taken across one end of a measuring line, whereby the 
actual breadth might have been ascertained. It appears that the river does not extend its 
current into the Dead Sea, as some of the older writers allege ; but is stopped at once by the 
denser waters of the lake. 

Having examined the river Jordan thus in detail, there is little need of other collective obser- 
vations, than the above account has comprehended. It may be well, however, that the reader 
should remember that the described points are for the most part fords ; and where, therefore, 
from the very nature of the distinction, the river is more shallow than in other places. Several 
attempts have been made to estimate the average breadth and depth of the Jordan between the 
two lakes. Dr. Shaw took its average breadth at thirty yards, and its depth at nine feet, and 
assumed its speed to be two miles an hour ; on which data he calculated that the river dis- 
charged into the Dead Sea daily, 6,090,000 tuns of water. Volney makes the breadth from 
sixty to eighty feet, and the depth ten or twelve feet. Mariti reckons the average breadth, at 
ordinary times, as sixty feet, and the breadth from seven to nine feet ; and he affirms that at 
the seasons of its overflow, the inundation extends for four miles, and that sometimes the in- 
equality of the soil then parts it into two different beds. Legh compares the river to the Thames 
below Oxford, but describes it as more rapid. Elliot reckons that between the two lakes the 
breadth of the stream varies from thirty to sixty yards, and its depth from six to sixteen. If 
we collate these statements with the observations (already recorded) of other travellers made at 
various points, we shall see reason to conclude that the true average breadth may be about 
thirty yards, and the depth eight or nine feet. 

We have already had occasion to remark how singularly low the valley through which this 
river flows lies, as compared with the central part of Canaan, and with the country beyond 
Jordan. Some notion of this may be formed from the fact that according to Mr. Russegger, 
the bathing-place of the pilgrims is not less than 1269 feet below the level of the Mediter- 
ranean, while at the head of the Dead Sea, the depression reaches to 1319 French feet, or 
nearly 1400 English feet, below the same level. This depression occasions, along the 
borders of the river, a marked distinction of climate, which we shall find another occasion to 

Although the water is always turbid in the latter part of the river's course, it is said that 
when taken from the stream and left in a vessel, it soon clears itself, and deposits a black 

[The Dead Sea ] 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. clxxv 

sediment, containing bituminous particles. Nevertheless it is soft, incorruptible, and abounds 
in fish. In all times pilgrims have been accustomed to take home with them, not only willow- 
staves cut from the banks of the Jordan, and pebbles from its bed, but also bottles of the 
water, to which, by reason of its alleged sanctity, peculiar virtues of healing to the body and 
the soul were ascribed. Vases of Jordan water were received as valuable presents by the 
princes of Christendom, who made use of it in the baptism of their children, it being deemed 
far more efficacious than any other water in cleansing from the taint of original sin. a 

Having now attended the Jordan to the Dead Sea, that singular body of water next requires 
our attention. 

The awful catastrophe whereby the fruitful plain of Siddim underwent that change by 
which this lake is usually supposed to have been formed, has already been noticed in the 
historical portion of this work, and need not detain us in this place. 

This lake is known by various names in the Scriptures, as the Sea of the Plain, h from its 
situation in the great hollow or plain of the Jordan, or, perhaps, from its covering the 
ancient and beautiful plain of Siddim — The Salt Sea, c from the extreme saltness of its 
waters; and the East Sea, A from its situation with respect to the east of Judea, and in 
contradistinction to the West Sea, or the Mediterranean. By Josephus and the classical 
writers in general, it is also called Lacus Asphaltites, from the quantities of asphaltum which 
are found in it and on its borders. Mare Morluum, or the Dead Sea, was another of its 
names, and that by which it is now generally known in Europe. But the natives now call it 
Bahr Lout, the Sea of Lot, or Bahr Mutneh, the Stinking Sea. 

This very remarkable body of water was as much an object of curiosity and wonder in 
ancient as it has been in modern times. But the ancient genius, being essentially exagge- 
rative, it became invested with many circumstances of horror and wonder which do not pro- 
perly belong to it, and from which it has hardly been yet cleared. 

As the lake has not yet been fully explored and surveyed, as there is much reason to hope 
it will soon be, it may be still said that there is no authority for the description of it equal to 
that of Josephus, whose account necessarily embodies the information possessed by those who 
had for ages been inhabitants of the country, and by whom it must have been intimately 
known in every part. We shall, therefore, as the most eligible course, give his account, and 
then offer our observations in the same order in which his details are given, to illustrate or 
explain the several particulars. 

The length of the lake he states as 580 stades, and its breadth 150. This is rendered by 
his translators and interpreters into 72 miles long by 18 broad, it being very convenient to 
consider the stade as equivalent to the furlong, of which eight make one mile. In fact, the 
word stade is usually rendered by furlong in most old translations and descriptions from 
ancient sources. But it is forgotton that while of the Roman stades there were indeed 600 to 
the degree, there was the older and shorter Greek stade of 700 to the degree, that is of about 
ten to the mile. Now we have satisfied ourselves, by comparing the measurements of 
Josephus between known points, that he employs this shorter measure ; and that, therefore, 
he intends to describe the Asphaltic Lake as not more than 56 miles long by 15 broad. 

The shores he describes as unfruitful ; the waters were very bitter, and so dense of body, 
that they bore up the heaviest things that were thrown into it ; nor would it be easy for any 
one to sink therein even if he wished. Accordingly, when Vespasian visited the lake, he 
made experiment of this, by causing some men who could not swim to have their hands tied 
behind them and to be cast into the lake, when it was seen that they were buoyed up by the 
water even as light bodies are impelled upward by the wind. 

The colour of the water was observed to change in a very remarkable manner. It altered 
its appearance regularly three times every day, according to the difference in the direction in 

n Lindsay, ii. 65 ; Paxton, 158 ; Arundale, 80 ; Stephens, ii. 361—363 ; Jolliffe, 1 15; Robinson, 70 ; Elliot, ii. 477; Shaw, ii. 
156; Mariti.ii. 326, 327; Nau, 2?2. 
b Deut. iii. 17, iv. 19. o Deut. iii. 17 ; Josh. xv. 5. d Ezek. xlvii. 18 ; Joel ii. 20. 


which the rays of the sun shone upon and were reflected from it. But this, we may observe, 
is very natural, and occurs more or less in every lake hemmed in by high mountains. 

It appears that then, as now, masses of black bitumen, of which we have spoken in another 
place a were thrown up to the surface. Josephus compares these masses, quaintly enough, to 
headless bulls, both in shape and size ; adding, that men went out in boats to collect it, which 
was a work of some labour, from the tenacity of the mass, which rendered it difficult to pro- 
portion the quantity taken on board to the burden of the vessel. It was used for caulking 
ships, and in embalments, as well as for various medicinal purposes. 

Josephus speaks of Ike land of Sodom,ihe desolation of which has been recorded elsewhere, 
not as the land now covered by the lake, but as the land which still bordered on this lake. 
This, he says, was once a happy and blessed country ; but, for the iniquities of its people, was 
burnt up and consumed by the fires of heaven. Of this Divine judgment the land still offered 
abundant traces. Even some remains of the ruined cities might still be perceived. The fruits 
which grew there were also appropriate monuments of its condition ; for while to the eye they 
seemed pleasant and good for food, they were crushed in the hand that plucked them, and 
offered nothing but dust and ashes. 

From other Jewish sources we get little further information. We only learn that its bitumen 
was one of the ingredients in the holy incense, perhaps to render it inflammable ; and that it 
was usual among the later Jews to devote to 'the Salt Sea,' anything destined to rejection 
and cursing, and that might by no means be used. 

It is surprising how little has been added, until very recently, to the account which Josephus 
gives. The older travellers seldom saw anything but what they went purposely to see, or did 
anything but what they had purposed to do. The journey to that quarter has always, from the 
time of Christ till now, been dangerous from being infested by robbers and Bedouins. And it 
was so great a thing to visit the Jordan, and in its stream to leave the taint of original sin, and 
to secure the soul and body from the power of hell, that few of the pilgrims concerned them- 
selves about so comparatively trifling and foreign a matter as a visit to the Dead Sea. The 
best information is that supplied by the monks and missionaries, whose long residence in the 
country afforded them many opportunities of obtaining information which could not be equally 
open to the pilgrim or passing traveller. And, upon the whole, as far as substantial facts are 
concerned, it is probable that very nearly as much information concerning this sea existed in 
books a hundred and sixty years ago as at the present time, notwithstanding the seeming dis- 
coveries which have been made in that quarter within the last thirty years. The accounts of 
the old travellers do not differ from one another more than those of the modern — and the dif- 
ferences in both cases may be referred to the same causes — the different times of the year in 
which the visits were made, and the difference of temperament in the visitors, and the greater 
or less manifestation in them of those imaginative faculties which give their own hue to the 
objects they regard. 

With respect to the dimensions of the lake the old travellers differ less among themselves 
perhaps than those of later date. The average of their accounts would make it about forty-five 
miles in length by ten in breadth, which differs little from the measurement we have inter- 
preted Josephus to give, and agrees as nearly as may be with the dimensions given to it in 
the map lately published by the Geographical Society . b 

Antoninus Martyr merely speaks of the bitumen and sulphur of the lake, and the absence 
of any living thing on its waters, or of trees or verdure on its shores. But he adds that in 
July and August it was usual in his time for lepers to resort to the lake, and bathing in its 
waters, it sometimes pleased God that they were healed. 

Brocard confirms the account of its steril shores. A hideous vapour, he says, rises from the 
lake, so that the smoke and darkness by which it was invested made it no inapt type of hell. 
This vapour is so deleterious that the barbarians inhabiting the neighbourhood took care to 
fix themselves beyond the point to which it continues to be injurious, when driven before the 

a Physical History, p. lxxx. b In vol. xi. pt. 2, of its ■ Journal.' 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. clxxvii 

Other old writers describe the water as an abominable infusion of nitre and sulphur, so 
offensive and nauseous to the smell and taste, that the salt of the lake was never applied to 
any use. Arculf a notices the saline deposit on the borders of the lake, caused by the absorp- 
tion, by heat, of the water thrown high up the shore by tempests, or that is left when the lake 
has sunk to its usual level after the periodical overflow. 

Anselm contradicts much that previous writers had stated. He had bathed his feet in the 
lake, and had seen naked Arabs and Greeks bathing their whole persons, without being at all 
annoyed by the fetor or the pestilential vapours, of which so much had been said. And as to 
the sterility of the borders, he declares there was no part of the Holy Land in which he saw 
better pasturage; the absence of trees he seems to allow by his silence. 

Some of the middle age writers attribute the absence of boats upon the lake to the injurious 
effects of the vapour, so that men could not endure it, and that it is therefore, in effect, not 
navigable. But this is contradicted by the account already copied from Josephus ; and Scheriff 
ibn Idris b bears witness that there were some few vessels on the lake in his time. A more 
recent contradiction will presently be adduced. 

We know no early writer who pretends, as often stated in later times, that the vapours of 
this lake are so fatal to birds, that they cannot pass over it or remain on its borders. Eugene 
Roger, who saw that the vapour, of which so much had been said, was not a spontaneous exha- 
lation from the lake, but was an absorption of moisture from the lake by the heat of the pro- 
cumbent air, alleges that it was so sulphurous that insects could not endure it. And this may 
be true while the process of absorption is going on with great activity ; for we have evidence 
that great numbers of locusts have been seen lying dead on the borders of the lake. 

The same writer affirms that the salt of the Dead Sea was in use for culinary purposes in 
Jerusalem : and this is confirmed by Irby and Mangles, who saw people collecting the salt 
towards the southern extremity of the lake ; and by Madden, who met people who were 
bound from Jerusalem to the western border of the lake, to collect salt there. 

That no fish will live in the lake, and that, although fish abound in the lake of Gennesareth 
and the river Jordan, those that make their way to the Asphaltic Lake soon die, is confirmed 
by Jerome, many years of whose valuable life were spent in the neighbourhood. He makes 
this remark in a note on Ezek. xlvii. 9, 10. Indeed, that chapter of the prophet, by describe 
ing what the lake should offer when its waters became wholesome, clearly intimates what it 
had not in its present unwholesome state. In this obvious view, the passage is so interesting 
that we will transcribe it below." That fish coming from the wholesome waters of the lake 
of Tiberias and the Jordan should perish in the briny and bitter waters of the Dead Sea is 
natural. That the lake should have no fish of its own is not of itself so evident, but is so 
probable, and supported by such a concurrent weight of testimony, that we have no doubt on 
the subject. That shells have been found on the shore proves nothing as to shell- fish. They 
or their shells might be brought down by the river and deposited on the shore ; besides, that 
shells of some kind or other are found in almost all parts of the land. 

It is not difficult to account for the assertion of Josephus that traces of the guilty cities 
of the plain might still be perceived. It is clear that the Jewish historian did not consider 
that the cities were submerged in the lake, but lay upon its borders. There is nothing in his 
more formal account of the lake, or in his historical notice of the destruction of Sodom to 

a In Adamnanus, de Locis Terrae Sanctce, 1. ii cap. 14. b Cited hi Reland, Palaestina, lib. i. cap. 38. 

c "These waters issue out towards the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea; which being brought 
forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass that everything that liveth, which moveth, whitherso- 
ever the rivers shall come, shall live ; and there shall be a very great multitude ofjish. because these waters shall come thither ; 
for they shall be healed ; and everything shall live whither the river cometh. And it shall come to pass that Jishers sliall stand 
upon it from Engedi even unto En-eglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets, their Jish shall be according to their hind, even 
as the Jish if the great sea [Mediterranean], exceeding many. But the miry places thereof, and the marishes thereof shall not be 
healed, they shall be given to salt. And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for 
meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed." —Ezek. xlvii. 8—12. In this very interesting passage 
we see it clearly intimated that no fish could live in the lake ; that no useful trees grew on its banks, and from the context it may 
not be difficult to collect that there mere such unprofitable fruits as the famous *' apples of Sodom," which will require our atten- 
tion in another place. We also observe that the natural salt pans to the S.E. of the lake were so useful from the supply of salt 
which they afforded the inhabitants of the country, that they were on that account exempted from the curative processes meta- 
phorically applied to the lake itself. 

vol. i. 2 a 


suggest that he supposed the lake was at that time first formed. He rather states that it 
previously existed, hut that its nature, and that of its shores, was so changed as to be no 
longer beautiful and rich, as of old. In short, he manifestly conceives that Sodom and the 
other cities stood upon the borders of the lake, in like manner as Tiberias, Capernaum, Cha- 
razin, Bethsaida, and other towns, stood upon the lake of Gennesareth ; and, were this the 
case, it is certainly not impossible that in such a climate, and in a quarter so unfrequented, 
some traces of the doomed cities might be preserved, especially as the saline incrustations of 
the lake might tend to their preservation. But it is more likely that the ruins of towns of far 
later origin might be taken for those of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim. It is pre- 
cisely in this sense that Varthema a understood Josephus, and declares himself to have seen 
the same ruins : — " We came to the playne or valley of Sodoma and Gomorrha, where we 
found it to be true that is written in Holy Scripture ; for there yet remayne the ruynes of the 
destroyed citie as witnesse of God's wrath. We may affyrme that there are three cities, and 
eche of them scituate on the declyning of three hylles : and the ruynes do appeare about the 
heyght of three or foure cubites. There is yet seen neare, I wotte, what is lyke blood, or 
lyke redde waxe myxt with earth." Although this writer is not the most credible of travellers, 
it is very likely he saw such ruins as he mentions, but that they were the ruins of " the cities 
of the plain " is quite another question. Since then, however, travellers, misunderstanding 
the position taken by Josephus, have been seeking the ruins under the water ; and, as the 
water is very clear, while the bottom doubtless contains rocks, stones, and other protuberant 
masses, it would be strange if, with tolerably active imaginations, they had not found what 
they sought. Indeed they have thrown new light on the architecture of the patriarchal ages, 
as they have not only seen masses of stone buildings, but rows of columns "with goodly 
chapiters adorned." Others have only heard from their native guides that, when the lake is 
very low, ruins of towns are seen at the bottom. It is possible that some travellers have 
stated, as the result of their own observation, what they thus heard from their guides. Mr. 
Elliot, on receiving this information from his guide, the sheikh of Bethlehem, observes, — 
" While holding our opinion in abeyance on this point we must remember we have no parallel 
instance from which to deduce a positive conclusion, that under water so impregnated, masonry 
could not endure for four thousand years." Yes, "masonry ;" but a moment's thought will 
suggest a doubt Avhether the buildings of the patriarchal age in Syria were anything more 
than dried mud and timber. At the present day the inhabitants of Syria build with these 
materials, even though quarries are at their doors, from the expense of working them, and 
the want of means of conveying stone even to a short distance. It does not seem at all likely 
that the people of the country were in the patriarchal age. in a better condition in this respect 
than the present inhabitants. Besides, Job, who lived in that age, and on the borders of the 
same country, describes men as then building " houses of clay," not of stone ; and if the 
houses of the very ancient inhabitants were of clay, and such as the present inhabitants build 
(and they were not likely to have been better), we know that moisture is that which they are 
least able to stand, and that an unusually wet season does immense damage to them, and 
ruins many of them ; and that it would be impossible for any mass of building to remain 
three days in water without falling to pieces, and being resolved into a muddy sediment. 
Indeed the liability of such houses as existed in his time of being swept away and destroyed 
by water is plainly intimated by Job. b But Josephus was not guilty of the absurdity of 
supposing that the ruins of Sodom might still be found under the water. 

All the old travellers were uncommonly perplexed to account for the fact that, although 
the Dead Sea was constantly receiving large supplies of water from the Jordan and other 
rivers, and had no visible outlet by which they might be again discharged, its waters were 
generally at the same level. At last it was concluded that the redundant waters passed off to 

a ■*' The Navigations and Voyages of Lewes Vertomanus [Varthema, sometimes Barthema] , gentelman of the citie of Rome, lo 
the regions of Arabia, Egypte, Persia, Syria, Ethiopia, and East India, both within and without the ryuer of Ganges, &c, in 
the yeere of our Lorde, 1503. Conteyning many notable and straunge tilings, both hystoricall and naturall. Translated out of 
Latin into Englyshe, by Richard Eden, in the yeere of our Lorde, 1576. 

b Job iv. 19, xxii. 16. 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. clxxix 

the Mediterranean or the Elanitic Gulf by some subterraneous communication. As the 
Mediterranean was nearest, the communication was most generally supposed to be with that 
sea, especially after a story gained currency, that a wooden bowl, which a pilgrim had let fall 
into the Asphaltic Lake, had been picked up on the shores of Sicily. Others, justly question- 
ing this ground, were driven to the alternative of supposing that a quantity of water equal to 
that which the lake received, was absorbed by the burning sands on its borders. But this 
question has now long been set at rest. It is known that in the case of this and many other 
inland lakes which have no visible outlet, the air imbibes from the surface as much water as 
the rivers give to it, thus keeping it at the same level, except at the season when the rivers, from 
rains and melted snows, pour in more than the usual ^supply, for then the lake rises above its 
usual level. We know not that it has been seen in this state, but the fact is demonstrated by 
the drift-wood and other* matters which lie at what may be called the high-water mark, which 
mark is in some places more than a mile from the ordinary edge of the water. Dr. Halley 
showed that the absorption of water from the surface of the Mediterranean was equal to 6914 
tuns daily for every square mile. Now the absorption is the most active where the heat of the 
air is most intense ; and as there is, perhaps, hardly any place without the tropics where the 
heat is greater than in the basin of the Dead Sea and the valley of the Jordan, a still more 
active evaporation than this must be allowed, and will be found fully adequate to consume all 
the water which the lake receives, even if as much as Dr. Shaw has calculated. In a basin 
so confined, and in which the air becomes so intensely heated, and where, moreover, the 
water is of such peculiar qualities, the process of evaporation, or the incumbent vapour, may 
be expected to be oftener visible than under other circumstances. Hence the accounts of the 
mists, the vapours, the smoke, the darkness covering the lake, and which the older travellers 
supposed to be spontaneous emissions from it, and which, we believe, Morison was the first to 
perceive to be no other than the vapour drawn up, as from other waters, by the heat of the 
sun. But although he thus explains the accounts of other travellers, he acknowledges that in 
his repeated visits to the northern borders of the lake these appearances were never visible to 
him, but, on the contrary, the air seemed at all times as serene and pure as in the plain of 
Jericho. More recent travellers have confirmed this as the general appearance of the lake. 
But that there were occasional appearances which, observed in that place, and ill understood, 
offered a foundation for the old accounts, may be collected from Irby and Mangles, who state 
that on their journey from Kerek to the southern extremity of the Dead Sea, they came to a 
pass which commanded an extensive prospect over the lake, when they could observe the 
effect of the evaporation arising from it in broad transparent columns of vapour, not unlike 
water-spouts in appearance, but very much larger. 

Having dwelt on these various particulars, which enter into a description of the Asphaltic 
Lake, we now beg to introduce our readers to Nau, the Jesuit, whose book we have had 
frequent occasions to quote and to mention with high praise. Looking at his account of the 
Dead Sea, we have no hesitation to declare, that it is the best and most satisfactory single 
account that any traveller has, even to this day, furnished, although it be true that there are 
particular points which may have been better described by other travellers. Even the leading 
facts, concerning the southern termination of the lake, which, 150 years after, Captains Irby 
and Mangles might fairly claim to have discovered, were known to this intelligent tra- 
veller, and are duly registered in his book. We shall, therefore, conclude this survey of the 
information given by the old travellers with the substance of his description, after which we 
shall sum up such really additional information as more recent authorities have furnished. 

The water is beautifully clear and transparent, though of most abominable taste. Only 
violent winds blowing from particular quarters are able to ruffle the surface of the lake, which 
is in general perfectly smooth and still, partly from its confined situation, and partly, perhaps, 
from the density of the water. Our author thinks that it is to this general stillness rather than 
to the absence of fish [which he admits], or to its deleterious exhalations [which he does not 
admit], that the lake owes the name of the Dead Sea. 

2 a 2 


Of the dense and horrible vapours covering the lake, as described by most previous writers, 
he could see nothing in any of his journeys ; but, on the contrary, the surface always appeared 
to be as fair and as clear from vapours as any other water. The difference in the accounts of 
former travellers as to the appearance of the borders, he reconciles by observing that, in 
general, the shores of the lake have a burnt and cindery appearance. Nevertheless, where 
this burnt land has been refreshed by the rains of winter and of spring, a rather profuse 
herbage appears, including an unusual proportion of thorny plants and hurtful herbs. 

Many other particulars we omit, to avoid repeating what has been already stated, and pro- 
ceed to his peculiar and interesting information respecting the southern portion of the lake. 

Nau had the good fortune, when on a journey to Damascus, to form the acquaintance of 
Daniel the abbot (as he calls him) of the Greek monastery of Santa Saba, which is situated 
about midway between Bethlehem and the northern extremity of the lake. It soon transpired 
that this person had several times made the complete tour of the lake, under the protection of 
an Arab escort. Nau, eager to avail himself of this opportunity of collecting information, 
showed the monk a map in which the Dead Sea was represented in the usual manner; on 
which Daniel informed him that the representation of the southern extremity of the lake was 
entirely wrong. That, in fact, a second lake was there formed, of a round figure, approaching 
to an oval, and connected with the principal lake by a narrowed channel. That at this point 
the bottom of the lake was raised in such a manner as to render the water shallow and easily 
fordable to the other side — not indeed being higher than the middle of one's leg. This smaller 
and terminating lake was surrounded by plains bounded by mountains of salt. A considerable 
stream a nearly from the south-east entered this smaller and terminating lake. Nau further 
collected that the plains beyond were occupied by numerous Arabs of different tribes, and that 
in the country east of the Dead Sea there were fine and fertile plains, in which were some 
villages, in some of which might be found churches and a population, in a considerable pro- 
portion Christian. But the churches had no priests, and the people, wanting instruction, 
scarcely retained any form of Christianity. Many of them were unbaptized ; and such of 
them as from time to time desired that rite, came all the way to the monastery of Santa Saba 
to receive it. It seems to have been with the view of ministering in some degree to the wants 
of those destitute churches, that the good priest undertook the frequent journeys which furnished 
him with this information. 

These facts have received, within the present century, ample confirmation from the accounts 
of Seetzen, Burckhardt, and Irby and Mangles. Indeed the exact agreement of this statement 
respecting the southern termination of the lake, with that which the last-named travellers have 
given, is very remarkable. It does, indeed, strikingly illustrate the difference in the intel- 
lectual condition of the two periods, that the information communicated by the travellers we 
have just named seemed all new to the public, and not only attracted immediate attention, so 
as to produce the corresponding modifications in all the descriptions of the Dead Sea, and in 
all the maps of it subsequently put forth, b but stimulated other travellers to journey in the 
same direction ; whereas the information put forth by Nau, although on a subject in which 
considerable interest was felt, was perfectly abortive. It cannot be traced in any subsequent 
description or map; nor does any later traveller allude in any way to this statement, and far 
less was any one induced thereby to travel in the direction indicated. The reason is clear. 
Now every new fact is conveyed to the public by a multitude of different channels, till it 
becomes familiar by repetition ; whereas, in former times, such a fact might lie hid for years 
or for ages in the unread work by which it was first produced. 

Such is the account of the Dead Sea which we collect from old and neglected sources, with 
the exception of a few elucidatory points from more recent authorities. It will be found to contain 
nearly all that is yet known of the lake. This will appear from the notice we proceed to take 

a Evidently the river El Ahsa, probably the scriptural Zared. 

b When it is recollected that the work of Captains Irby and Mangles has never been published, and is difficult to procure, the 
manner in which their information has become common property to the public, the more strikingly illustrates the difference to 
which these observations are directed. 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. clxxxi 

of the additional information which may be collected from later travellers. This would be 

more evident if we confined ourselves strictly to that which is new ; but we judge it advisable 

to introduce statements which, although not properly new, involve views or circumstances 

which confirm or elucidate the facts previously known. 

The nature of the water of the lake has been distinctly ascertained by modern research. It 

is far more saline than the waters of the ocean ; and, although so limpid, its specific gravity is 

1*21 10. A quantity of it brought to this country was subjected to chemical analysis by Dr. 

Marcet, and was found to contain one-fourth of its weight of salts. A slightly different 

result was lately obtained by Dr. W. Gregory from a quantity of the water brought home by 

Mr. Madden. We give both statements ; and the difference between them may be accounted 

for by an actual difference in the qualities of the water when the lake is low and when high, 

from large additions of fresh water poured in by the rivers. A hundred parts of water 

afforded, — 


Chloride of soda, with a trace of 

bromine .... 9'58 

Chloride of magnesium . . 5 "28 

Chloride of calcium . . . 3"05 

Sulphate of lime . . . T34 



Muriate of lime 


Muriate of magnesia 


Muriate of soda 


Sulphate of lime 



Those as already noticed are the same salts, which, in an incomparably smaller quantity, are 
held in solution in the waters of the Jordan also. 

The extraordinary saltness of this lake is obviously owing to the quantities of saline matter 
brought in by the rivers from the saline tracts over which they pass, and more particularly by 
the winter torrents which receive and convey into the lake the rains which have washed over 
the salt-hills at the south-eastern extremity of the lake. a It is easy to imagine how this con- 
stant supply of saline matter to a lake of narrow dimensions without any visible outlet, must 
produce an accumulation of salt which cannot pass off by evaporation. 

When taken up in a glass the water appears perfectly clear ; but when viewed en masse. 
under a cloudless sky, though in some parts it reflects imperfectly the azure hue, yet in others 
it is quite brown, owing probably to variations in its depth. The taste is described by Mr. 
Elliot as indescribably nauseous, salter than the ocean, and singularly bitter, like sea-water 
mixed with Epsom salts and quinine, or, as Madden describes, like a solution of nitre 
mixed with an infusion of quassia. It acts on the eyes as pungently as smoke, and pro- 
duces on the skin a sensation resembling that of " prickly heat," leaving behind a white saline 

The quantity of salts which this water holds in solution accounts for its remarkable specific 
gravity, which every writer, from Josephus downward, has noticed. This has been found, by 
experiment, to exceed that of rain-water by more than sixteen per cent. " We found it prac- 
tically," says Mr. Elliot ; "for our whole party, consisting of five persons, plunged in and 
remained some time in the water. Although the assertion be not true that a flat dense mass of 
iron will be sustained on the surface, yet a man who cannot float elsewhere, finds no difficulty 
here. Having proceeded some way into the lake till his shoulders are nearly immersed, his 
feet are actually borne off the ground, and he walks, as it were, on water ; or else his legs are 
forcibly raised, and he is compelled either to float or swim. To sink or dive would require 
some effort. The specific gravity of the water accounts also for its reputed immobility ; it is 
less easily excited than any other known lake, and sooner resumes its wonted stillness." ( 3 ) 

No modern traveller has seen smoke issuing from the lake ; but at certain times of the 
year the surface is covered with a thick mist. In summer the sun has such power that this 
dense mass of vapours is dispersed soon after its rising. The assertion of Volney, to which 

a See before, p. lxx. 


we have, perhaps, given too much weight in a preceding page, that smoke is often observed 
to issue from the lake, probably rests upon information derived from the Arabs, upon which 
no one acquainted with that people would place much dependence. That vapours exhale 
from the lake, which, although differing, perhaps, in substance, resemble in appearance those 
of all other lakes, is quite true ; and that Arabs inhabiting a desert, the atmosphere of which 
is of the purest description, should call an aqueous vapour smoke, is not strange. 

The old story, that no birds were found upon the shores of the lake, and that none could 
rest upon or pass over its surface without paying the penalty of death, is not affirmed by any 
of those old travellers whose statements in other matters we have been accustomed to treat 
with respect, but it has only been completely gainsaid and disproved by travellers of recent 
date. Mariti saw a great number of birds of different kinds, particularly nightingales, along 
the shore. Fisk, and, in a later year, Hardy, saw many birds flying about the lake, and even 
observed some skimming the water with as much apparent ease as in any other place. 
Stephens beheld a flock of gulls floating quietly on the water, and when disturbed by him, 
they flew down the lake, skimming its surface, till they had carried themselves out of sight. 
Elliot saw more wild ducks cross the sea from Moab to the hills of Judah. Professor Robinson 
observes, — " Of birds we saw many. Indeed, at the early dawn the trees and rocks and air 
were full of the carols of the lark, the cheerful whistle of the quail, the call of the partridge, 
and the warbling of innumerable songsters, while birds of prey were screaming and soaring 
in front of the cliffs above." Pigeons also were observed shooting across the surface, and 
frogs were heard croaking merrily from the neighbourhood of a brackish fountain under the 
cliffs of the western shore. These last observations seem to have been made chiefly with 
reference to about the middle part of the western border of the lake, where vegetation, even 
in the form of trees, is by no means wanting. a Dead locusts were found by Irby and Mangles 
on the south-eastern borders of the lake. The sight of such a multitude of carcases of crea- 
tures that might have perished in passing over these waters, might seem to confirm the old 
popular notion, but the travellers recollected that such a spectacle was sufficiently common 
upon other shores, as Sicily and about El Arish. This, however, proves nothing against 
Roger's assertion that locusts could not cross the lake. For those which were seen on the 
shores of Sicily and about El Arish had obviously fallen into the water from fatigue in attempting 
to cross the Mediterranean — a very different undertaking from that of crossing the Dead Sea. 
We feel sure that locusts would not be fatigued to cross that lake, and that the presence of 
their carcases in large numbers on the shore must be ascribed to some other cause than that 
which produces a similar appearance on the shores of the Mediterranean. This point is, 
therefore, still in doubt. The same travellers saw a pair of Egyptian ducks, and afterwards a 
flight of pigeons, pass over the lake. 

It is, however, true that several travellers, of as great credit as those from whom we have 
taken the preceding statements, declare that they saw no birds near the lake. In fact this, 
like the question of vegetation, seems to be one of seasons. The want of fish in the lake 
would satisfactorily account for the absence of the aquatic species at any time ; and the land- 
birds we would hardly expect to find there save when the vegetative powers which remain in 
the stricken soil have been called forth by the periodical rains ; and, in fact, those travellers 
who have not observed birds, visited the lake at the season when the temporary vegetation 
(like that of the desert already described b ) has disappeared before the intense and concentrated 
heat of the advancing season. The birds seem to disappear with it. Indeed it is not unlikely 
that the borders of this warm basin is the retreat during the colder part of the year of nume- 
rous birds, which in summer are found in other and cooler, as well as then more productive 
and pleasant, parts of the land, 

The differences in the accounts of travellers, as to the general aspect of the lake, can, we 
think, be explained without much difficulty. Setting aside the influence of a prepared 
imagination, it may be observed that there are actual differences at the same place at different 

a See before, p. cxi. •> See before, p. cxli. 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. clxxxiii 

seasons of the year, and that there are actual differences at different parts of the lake. The 
first point has been lately explained, and need not be dwelt on here ; and, with respect to the 
latter, we need only add to what has been said in the preceding chapter a that the borders 
seem to increase in fertility on both sides the farther we advance to the south, except at the 
very extremity of the lake southward, which seems even more desolate than the northern 
extremity. In short, there seems a certain limit beyond the water's edge, within which 
nothing but such few plants as love a saline soil can be found ; but beyond this limit an 
increasing vegetation appears, where ordinary circumstances are favourable. So when the 
breadth between the water's edge and the enclosing hills does not overpass this limit, all 
appears barren, except when the rigid and austere soil is mollified and excited by abundant 
rains ; but where the intervening plain is broad, so as to afford a space beyond this limit, the 
soil becomes more or less cultivable, and as we advance towards the roots of the mountains, 
becomes spontaneously productive of various plants, shrubs, and trees. So likewise, 
when the feet of the mountains are within the steril boundary, no vegetation appears upon 
them, until their ascents have sloped back beyond this steril limit. The general borders of 
the lake are so much within this limit that the average aspect is moie desolate than is usually 
seen on the borders of lakes. It is quite clear that the evaporations from the lake are charged 
with saline principles unfriendly to general vegetation. Hence vegetation is not encouraged 
by the moisture thus exhaled, and which might otherwise compensate for the extreme drought 
of its borders. Indeed, from the wholesome moisture supplied by evaporation, the borders of 
lakes, even in places where rain only periodically falls, are so generally clothed with trees and 
verdure, that water and vegetation become associated in the mind, so that the disappointment 
and surprise give an exaggerated effect to the impressions which the comparative sterility of 
this remarkable lake produces on the spectator. 

This theory — if an explanation derived from the careful comparison of a large collection of 
facts can be called a theory — appears to us to explain many difficulties and apparent contra- 
dictions ; and we are well assured that its correctness will abide the test of any observations 
which future travellers may make. 

Subject to this and preceding explanations, we will trust our readers with two differently 
coloured descriptions of the lake, as viewed from the northern extremity. Both, while they 
give us general impressions, are clear and sensible, and offer some further facts necessary to 
complete an account which we have been anxious to render as full and satisfactory as existing 
materials allow. The first is that of the Rev. C. B. Elliot, whose visit was at the usual season 
of the pilgrimage, at Easter. 

" During a ride of two hours along, or at some little distance from, the banks of Jordan, 
we saw not a single man or animal, and reached in safety its embouchure, where it discharges 
its muddy waters with considerable force into the sea of Sodom. The soil appeared to be 
a mixture of sand and clay, the former being superficial and apparently a deposition from the 
water during its annual overflowings. Very minute shells lie scattered in myriads over the 
plain ; but in the immediate vicinity of the lake of death, even these symptoms of a by-gone 
life are no longer visible ; their place is occupied by little masses of a white frothy substance 
exuding from the earth, resembling in shape and size the turbinated cones thrown up by 
worms. When taken in the hand, these almost melted, leaving a smell of brimstone ; they 
looked like a sulphurous efflorescence in combination with salt ; but the taste indicated the 
presence of something more than these ingredients. No signs of vegetation are to be seen 
except sea-weed and another marine production. 

" The air, even at seven o'clock in the morning, was heavy and oppressive, though the sky 
was cloudless and the heat not unpleasant. We saw no symptoms of the smoke said to be 
the effect of bituminous explosions underneath the lake and to arise constantly from its sur- 
face, but a mist covered it, which might have been nothing more than the ordinary effect pro- 
duced by the morning sun. Hemmed in, as the water is by mountains absolutely barren, 
themselves of a gloomy hue, the sand and clay below reflecting no brighter rays, it is not sur- 

a Pages ex. and cxi. 


prising that every object should wear a dreary aspect, and the very eye be deceived into a 
belief, — if deception it be, — that the only colour it discerns partakes of a sombre livid tint. 
The air is regarded as pestilential ; no human dwellings are to be seen ; and probably no spot 
in the world is so calculated as this to convey the idea of an entrance into the kingdom of 
death. Here death wields a leaden sceptre. The eye perceives only the absence of life. 
The ear is cheered by no sound, — even the waveless sea sleeps in mysterious silence. The 
taste and smell detect only that mineral which is too intimately associated in the mind with 
unquenchable fire and eternal death ; and the sense of feeling becomes more sympathetically 
affected, as though every nerve were on the verge of dissolution. In this region of death the 
living exception is ready to exclaim, ' How dreadful is this place !' " 

The other description is from the recent American traveller, the Rev. J. D. Paxton. 

" In going from the Jordan to the Dead Sea, for a considerable space not a blade of grass or 
vegetation was to be seen. It was so soft and dusty, that the horses sank to their fetlocks ; 
and in some places it was rendered uneven by the irregular mounds, many of which did not 
seem to know what vegetation is. Whether this peculiar barrenness was owing to the un- 
favourable nature of the soil I know not ; possibly this may be the case. I did not see any 
other indication of salt, which has been reported as found on the surface of the ground, until 
very near the sea. Between this barren district and the Dead Sea, there was an evident 
change in the aspect of the ground — we found some dry grass and small bushes ; and as we 
came nearer the shore, the bushes increased in size and number, and some spots might be 
called thickets. We saw also a cane brake and a variety of other growth. To my agreeable 
surprise, I found the shore fine, smooth, gravelly, and deepening very slowly, so that a person 
might wade in for some distance. There was along the shore drift-wood, most of it small, 
but still larger than I had seen on the Jordan. This would seem to indicate that somewhere 
on its shores there is more timber than we found in the spot we visited. The water was not 
only very salt but exceedingly bitter, as much so as most travellers have stated. The great 
density of the water was amply proved by its power to bear up the body. There is some truth 
in the saying that it requires an effort to keep the feet and legs under, so as to use them to 
advantage in swimming. Some writers have, however, stated the matter in rather too strong 

" I could lie on my back in the water, with my head, hands, and feet all out at the same 
time, and remain thus as long as I pleased without making any motion whatever ; this I could 
not do in any other water that I have been in. Still it is carrying the matter too far and 
beyond the truth, when it is said to be so heavy, or so dead, that it never rises in waves, but 
always lies smooth and unruffled, let the wind blow as it will. The drift-wood thrown out 
is evidence to the contrary. The shore exhibited proof that but a day or two before the 
waves had run high ; but the best proof of all was the ocular and sensible one, that they 
were then chasing each other out on the shore, as they do in all other seas ; true they did 
not run high, but then there was not much wind to make them. The water was so clear that 
the bottom could be seen with great distinctness. In wading in, there was at some places 
more softness at the bottom than I was led to expect from the firm character of the shore. 
There were, however, some spots on the shore where the soil gave way under our feet, and 
exhibited a kind of quicksand, as I demonstrated by getting into one of them over my shoes. 
Still the bank, the water, and the bottom, so far as I saw and tried it, had much less of the 
terrible, fearful, and unnatural, than I had expected. Instead of that dark, gloomy, and turbid 
spread of water, that from my childhood I had imagined, it struck me as a very pleasant lake. 
It reminded me of the beautiful lake of Nice. As to the deep and fearful gloom which many 
writers describe as hanging over it, I must think that it is mainly found in their imaginations. 
It is not wonderful that a place, which, for its great wickedness, was doomed to such a fearful 
catastrophe as were the cities which stood on this plain, should be looked upon with fear and 
horror. It is a wise provision of our nature that it should be so. It operates, and no doubt it 
is designed to do so, as a check to that fearful wickedness that calls down such a doom. It is 
not an uncommon thing for people to think that there is something fearful and gloomy in places 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. clxxxv 

where they know awful crimes have been perpetrated ; and on this principle, perhaps, we may 
account for the fact that so many travellers have dwelt on the deep gloom which hung over the 
water, and the fearful desolation that reigned over the whole region. Now to me it did not 
appear thus : the shores, the waters, and the lake, had a natural and even a pleasing appear- 
ance, the more so as, from my old habits of thinking, I expected something of the fearful, if 
not terrible. The district was, it is true, rather destitute of trees and vegetation, but not more 
so than many districts that I have seen; not more so than the district from Mount Olivet to 
the plain of Jordan, and a very large district near Damascus, which I noticed in a former 
journey. There are more small trees, bushes, canes, and other vegetable growth, for a quarter 
of a mile along the shore, than there are on some districts north-west of Damascus, perhaps 
ten miles square, leaving out the narrow slips of land irrigated by the water of the Bareda. 
There is quite a cluster of small trees or shrubs at a point on the edge of the water, where it is 
soft and swampy. The question whether there are any living things in these waters is one 
that I am not able to decide from my own observation. I saw none. 

" There is a small island fifty or a hundred yards from the shore, rising six or eight feet 
above the level of the water, and appears to have some stones at the upper part of it. We 
thought we could see most distinctly another island far to the south. a As similar statements 
have often been made, and again contradicted, we looked at it the more carefully ; and our 
conclusion was, notwithstanding all the declarations to the contrary, it must be an island, 
and one of considerable size, unless connected with the other shore by a very low neck of land 
which the great distance prevented our seeing : this time will show. It is a singular fact that 
a piece of water, which for ages has excited more intense interest than any other in the world, 
should yet be so little known, and so few should have been found who have made a serious 
attempt to explore it. There has not, as far as I know, been one boat on the waters of the 
Dead Sea for ages, if from the days of Abraham ; there may have been in the days of the 
Jewish nation, but I have not seen it confirmed by any writer. Last year an intelligent Irish- 
man took a boat across from Acre to the lake of Tiberias, and after amusing himself with it 
on that lake, he. passed down the Jordan to the Dead Sea, and spent some days in exploring it. 
How far he went to the south, and what discoveries he made, is not known. He had the mis- 
fortune to be taken sick, owing in part, it was supposed, to his imprudence and useless exposure. 
With much difficulty he got back to Jericho, and was then carried to Jerusalem, where he 
died. He had taken but few notes, which were unintelligible to all but himself.* 1 When 
inquired of concerning his expedition on the Dead Sea, he declined answering until he should 
recover, when he would tell them all about it. But death closed up the communication for 
ever. The boat was taken out and carried to Jericho, as I have since learned. Were some one, 
acquainted with navigating a small vessel, and capable of taking soundings and making a 
proper survey of the lake, to spend a month or two in doing it, and to publish a full account, 
with a correct map of the sea and the coast, he would confer a very great favour on the Christian 
world. It would be so easy of execution, and of so universal interest when done, that I wonder 
that none of those men who long for public fame have not before now thought of it." 

We sincerely join in the regret that the public have been so unhappily excluded from reap- 
ing the benefit of the observations made by Mr. Costigan (for that was the name of " the 
intelligent Irishman" of whom Paxton speaks) during his romantic expedition. The further 
information collected by Mr. Stephens is, for the present, at least, of too much interest and 
value to be omitted. 

This gentleman reports that he took some pains to trace out the man who had attended 
Costigan during this voyage, and had the good fortune to find him at Beirout. " He was a 
little, dried-up Maltese sailor ; had rowed round the lake without knowing why, except that 
he was paid for it ; and what he told bore the stamp of truth, for he. did not seem to think 

a The first is a real island; the other must have been an illusion. 

b " Unfortunately for the interests of science he had always been in the habit of trusting greatly to his memory ; and, after 
his death, the missionaries in Jerusalem found no regular diary or journal, but merely brief notes written on the margins of 
books, so irregular and confused, that they could make nothing of them."— Stephens. 



that he had done anything extraordinary. He knew as little about it as any man could know 
who had been over the same water ; and yet, after all, perhaps he knew as much as any one 
else could learn. He seems, however, to have observed the coast and the soundings with the 
eye of a sailor, and I got him to make me a map, a on which 1 marked down the particulars I 
received from his lips ; and by which it appears that they had completed the whole tour of the 
lake." The following is the substance of the observations thus obtained : — 

The tour of the lake took eight days, the voyagers sleeping on shore every night, except 
once, when, afraid of some suspicious-looking Arabs whom they saw upon the mountains, 
they slept on board, beyond the reach of gun-shot from the land. All this time was not, 
however, occupied in making the direct tour of the lake ; for during their course they crossed 
and re-crossed it several times. They sounded every day, frequently with a line of 175 
brachia (about six feet each), and found the bottom rocky, and of very unequal depth, some- 
times ranging thirty, forty, eighty, twenty brachia, all within a boat's length (!). Sometimes 
the lead brought up sand, like that of the mountains on each side. They failed in finding the 
bottom but once, and in that place there were large bubbles all around for thirty paces, rising 
probably from a spring. In one place they found on the bank a hot sulphur spring. In 
three different places they found ruins, and could clearly distinguish large hewn stones, which 
seemed to have been used for buildings. That which in the distance has appeared to many 
travellers as an island towards the southern extremity of the lake, was found to be a tongue of 
land, as had long before been shown by Captain Mangles. This incidental corroboration of 
the old man's statement, from a source which he could not know, and with which Stephens 
himself was unacquainted, may lead us to regard his statement as in general trustworthy. 

This man also reported that the boat, when empty, floated a palm higher in the water than 
when in the Mediterranean. It was then the month of July, and the weather from nine to 
five was dreadfully hot. Every night the north-wind blew, and the waves were worse than 
in the Gulf of Lyons. " In reference to their peculiar exposures, and the circumstances 
which hurried poor Costigan to his unhappy fate, he said that they had suffered exceedingly 
from the heat. The first five days Costigan took his turn at the oars; but on the sixth day 
their water was exhausted, and Costigan gave out. The seventh day they were obliged to 
drink the water of the sea, and on the eighth they were near the head of the lake, and he 
himself (the Maltese) exhausted, and unable any longer to pull an oar. There he made coffee 
from the water of the sea, and a favourable breeze springing up, for the first time they 
hoisted their sail, and in a few hours reached the head of the lake." The rest has been told 
above by Paxton. 

A very similar attempt to this has more recently been made by two scientific gentlemen, 
Mr. G. Moore and Mr. W. G. Beek. Their intention was to make a trigonometrical survey 
of the Dead Sea, to ascertain its depth, and to procure collections of all that could be of use to 
science. From Jaffa they conveyed a boat, with stores, etc., to the lake, passing through 
Jerusalem and descending on Jericho, a work of great labour, considering that they had no 
assistance from the authorities, but rather the contrary. After surveying a good portion of 
the shores, these gentlemen were obliged to abandon their work, the guards and guides de- 
claring they would not proceed. The width of the sea has been established beyond a doubt ; 
soundings also have been taken showing great depth. The length of the sea was found to be 
much less than has generally been supposed. These are all the facts, or rather intimations, 
which these gentlemen have as yet thought proper to lay before the public ; b but Mr. Moore 
has, we believe, since completed the unfinished undertaking, under the operation of a firman 
from the Pasha of Egypt ; and we may hope to be soon made acquainted with the full results 
of this very spirited enterprise. It thus appears that what Mr. Paxton so anxiously wished 
to be done has actually been effected, although the public has not yet been informed of the 

We have so often alluded to the discoveries of Captains Irby and Mangles about the southern 

a Copied in the original American edition, but injudiciously omitted in the English reprint, to which only we have access, 
to In the ' Geographical Journal,' vol. vii. pt. 2. 1837. 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS clxxxvii 

extremity of the Dead Sea that it seems undesirable to conclude this notice without stating 
such of the leading facts as have not already been anticipated. 

Their first journey in this quarter, being from Hebron round the southern extremity of the 
lake to Kerek. When, on this journey, they first obtained a view of the southern termination 
of the lake, with the back-water, or smaller lake, and plain at the end of it, it appeared 
evident to them that the sea must be of much less length than ancient authors had reported. 
But we may observe that from their account it is far more than likely that this plain at the 
end formed an integral part of the lake, in which case its dimensions would correspond very 
closely with that which in a preceding page form the account of Josephus. And the conclusion 
that this plain was formerly covered with the waters of the lake, even to the foot of the hills, 
southward, which separate it from the Wady Arabah seems to us probable for another reason. 
For if the plain were then passable, it seems difficult to make out why the Israelites, when 
wishing to pass into the country east of the lake, did not go that way, which would have been 
the nearest and the most open they could take ; but, instead of that, they sought permission to 
pass through the valleys of Mount Seir, and when that was refused them, had no alternative 
but to take a long and difficult circuit, to get into the eastern country by rounding the southern 
extremity of the Seir mountains, near the head of the eastern arm of the Red Sea a — a most 
unaccountable journey if there had then been that access to the eastern country at the ex- 
tremity of the Dead Sea which is now open. 

But to return to our travellers. They spent the night near the hills skirting this plain, and 
finding plenty of drift-wood at " high-water mark," they attempted to kindle a fire to bake 
bread, but were unable to do so in consequence of the salt with which the wood was impreg- 
nated. The abundant manifestations of salt which they found in crossing the plain have 
already been noticed in this work ; b for which reason we limit the present notice to their 
other observations. It appears from their statement that when the sandy flats around the 
southern bay, or smaller lake (which they call " the back-water ") are left dry by the effects 
of evaporation, water is stdl left in various hollows, or depressions of the surface, from which 
it gradually disappears, partly by evaporation and partly by draining, leaving a thick residuum 
of salt. Those that still retained water, or were still wet, had a strong marshy smell, similar 
to that which is perceivable on most of the muddy flats in salt-water harbours. This it is, 
they imagine, which gave rise to the unfavourable reports of the ancients, of the disagreeable 
smell of the waters of the Dead Sea ; for they affirm that the water of the main body of the 
lake is perfectly free from any smell whatever. 

On their return from their expedition from Kerek to Wady Mousa, the same travellers 
made a special excursion for the purpose of exploring the southern termination of the lake. 

In this journey they observed a rather profuse vegetation, so comparatively near to the 
beach as might, without explanation, seem to militate against the explanation we lately gave. 
But it is to be borne in mind that the bed being here very shallow, although the vegetation 
approximates to the high-water mark, the waters fall further back in this quarter, after the 
season of flood, than in any other part of the lake, removing, to that extent, the water from 
which the influences unfavourable to vegetation arise. Thus, during its absence, the trees 
and shrubs, assisted by the fresh water which the rivers bring down, c are able to gather 
strength to withstand the deleterious influences to which they are, during a portion of the 
year, exposed. But although the waters had fallen very much below the mark of high water 
at the time of our travellers' visit, they describe the foliage as having a salt dew hanging upon 
it, which gave to the hand the same greasy sensation and appearance which it acquires when 
dipped in the sea itself. 

The appearance which the lake assumes at its southern termination will be much better 
understood by the annexed plan than by a written description. From this it will be seen that 

a See the History, p. 316. b See before, pp. lxix. and lxx. 

c To a similar cause— the dilution of the waters of the lake, at the northern extremity, by the constant supply of fresh water 
from the Jordan, — may be ascribed the vegetation which Paxton saw near the water's edge, not far from where that river enters 
the lake. 

2b 2 



[Chap. VI. 

a large promontory projects from the eastern shore, and turns northward, so as to enclose 
between itself and the eastern coast a bay about four miles long, by two broad, while between 
it and the western shore lies a gradually narrowing strait, which conducts into the oval basin, 

about five miles long by above three in width, in which 
iillllillliillltllllllllllllllill the Dead Sea terminates. A small opposing promontory 

from the western shore narrows the strait in one place to 
about a mile of width ; and at this point is the ford which, 
with the other general features of the spot, was so long ago 
indicated by Father Daniel. It appears that the ford is 
marked by stakes, and Captain Mangles' party was in- 
formed that it was unfordable at no time of the year. In- 
deed its depth could be but inconsiderable at the time 
they were there, as there were asses in a small native 
caravan by which it had just been forded. 

The promontory from the eastern shore has a steep white 
ridge, running like a spine down the centre. This ridge 
presents steep sloping sides, seamed and furrowed into 
deep hollows by the rains, and terminating at the summit 
in sharp triangular points, standing up like rows of tents, 
ranged one above another. The whole is of a substance 
apparently partaking of the mixture of soft and broken 
chalk and slate, and is wholly unproductive of vegetation. 
The height of the eminence varies from ten to thirty feet, 
becoming gradually lower towards its northern extremity. 
At its foot, all round, is a considerable margin of sand, 
which varies in length and breadth according to the 
season, being much narrower in the dry season than in 
the times of flood, when we have reason to suppose that, 
in rough weather at least, the waves almost wash the base of the cliff. 

At the base of the peninsula, not far from the bottom of the bay formed by its horn, and 
near a river (called Dara) which falls into that bay, the traces of an ancient site very plainly 
appear. Stones that have been used in building, though for the most part unhewn, are strewed 
over a great surface of uneven ground, and mixed both with broken bricks and pottery. This 
appearance continues, without interruption, quite down from the slope of the peninsula to the 
plain below, so that it would seem to have been a place of considerable extent. One column 
was noticed, and a pretty specimen of antique variegated glass was found. This our travellers 
think may have been the site of the ancient Zoar, in which Lot found refuge when the cities of 
the plain were destroyed, and, on examining the matter for ourselves, we find much reason for 
subscribing to this opinion. ( 3 ) Close by these is now a hut-built village, occupied by Arabs. 
From the heat of the climate the people go half naked in summer, and the children entirely 
so ; and, altogether, their abode has more the appearance of a village in India or the South 
Seas than any that our nautical travellers had seen in the East. 

Although there seems great probability, as we have already intimated, that this peninsula 
has, in the distant view, been sometimes taken for an island, it seems that other apparent 
masses, noticed in other parts, and confidently affirmed by travellers to be islands, must be 
attributed to an illusion ; for our travellers state, — " This evening, about sunset, we were 
deceived by a dark shade on the sea, which assumed so exactly the appearance of an island 
that we did not doubt of it, even after looking through a telescope. It is not the only time 
that such a phenomenon has presented itself to us. In two instances, looking up the sea from 
its southern extremity, we saw it apparently closed by a low dark line, like a line of sand, to 
the northward; and, on another occasion, two small islands appeared to present themselves 
between a long sharp promontory and the western shore. We were unable to account for 
these appearances, but felt little doubt that they were those that deceived M. Seetzen into the 

[Southern termination of the Dead Sea.] 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. clxxxix 

supposition that he had discovered an island of some extent, which we have had an opportunity 
of ascertaining, beyond all doubt, does not exist." a 

We have, on more than one occasion, stated as a fact to which we attached much importance, 
that the great valley which extends between the Dead Sea and the Elanitic Gulf was probably 
a continuation of the ancient valley of the Jordan, by which the river made its way to the Red 
Sea before its waters were arrested in the Asphaltic Lake. This opinion was first started by 
Burckhardt, and was adopted by others who afterwards visited the valley. Burckhardt, how- 
ever, did not see how this valley connected itself with the Dead Sea. Irby and Mangles, who 
did so, observe that the plain at the end of it " opens considerably to the south, and is bounded 
at the distance of about eight miles by a sandy cliff, from sixty to eighty feet in height, and 
which runs directly across, and closes the valley of El Ghor, thus forming a margin for the 
uttermost limits of the Dead Sea to the southward, when its waters are at their greatest height. b 
We were told that the plain at the top of this range of cliffs continues all the way to Mecca 
without any interruption of mountains." This fact, confirmed and followed up, is no other 
than that on which the former conclusion has been lately questioned, and, we are almost sorry 
to admit, overturned. How it happened that the statement of Mangles was not considered to 
oppose an obstacle to this conclusion, we do not know, unless, as in our own case, from an 
unwillingness to dwell upon this single incident as irreconcileable with an opinion which such 
a traveller as Burckhardt thought he had good reasons to form ; and also perhaps from some 
vague notion that these cliffs might prove to be mere sand-banks, thrown up, in the course of 
ages, at high-water mark. 

Count de Bertou examined this matter more closely. As all the passages which bear on the 
question have been produced in the preceding chapter, we shall not here repeat them. These, 
it will be recollected, show that the confining southern hills are of sandstone ; that there is 
indeed the broad valley of a river or torrent passing through or at the end of this chain of hills, 
but this slopes sensibly towards the Dead Sea, and could never therefore have been the bed of 
a river flowing in the opposite direction ; that all the torrents and streams far to the south of 
this tend towards the basin of the Dead Sea ; and that the point where the waters separate 
occurs below Wady Mousa, or rather at Wady Talh, about midway between the hills which 
border on the basin of the Dead Sea and the head of the Elanitic Gulf; — all the waters north 
of this limit tend to the former basin, and all south of the same limit to the latter. 

Professor Robinson confirms this statement in all essential points. The following passage 
deserves attention, as explaining what is rather obscure in the notices of the Count : — " Before 
us, as we advanced southward, appeared a line of cliffs, fifty to one hundred and fifty feet in 
height, [" fifty or sixty," Count B.] stretching across the whole broad valley, and apparently 
barring all further progress. They proved to be of marl [" friable sandstone," Count B.~\; and 
run off from this point [the western end] S.S.E. across the valley. All along their base are 
fountains of brackish water, oozing out and forming a tract of marshy land towards the north. 
Our route now lay along the base of these cliffs, and we came in two hours to the mouth of 
Wady Jib, [the same which Count de B. calls Wady Araba, but which is here distinguished 
as a Wady in Wady Araba] a deep valley coming down from the south through the cliffs ; and 
showing the latter to be only an offset between the lower plain which we had just crossed, and 
the higher level of the same great valley further south. The name El Ghor is applied to the 
valley between the Dead Sea and this offset : further south the whole of the broad valley takes 

a The following are the authorities which have chiefly been consulted in drawing up the above account of the Dead Sea. They 
are named here in chronological order : — 

Josephus, de Bell., v. 5; Antoninus Martyr, ' Itinerarium,' 9; Adamnanus, lib. ii.p. 14, 15; Amselm, 'Terras Sanctae Descrip- 
tione ; Brocard, part i. c. 7, sect. 2 ; Vitriaco, 89, 90, in edit. 1597 ; 1075-6, in Gesta Dei per Francos ; Adrichomius, 52 ; Quares- 
mius, lib. vi.cap. 13, par. 5; Lightfoot, Chorog., Cent., ch. 5 ; Nau, 577 — 588; Morison, ch. xxx. ; Shaw, ii. 157, 158 ; Hassel- 
quist, 130, 131,284; Mariti, ii. ch. 25 ; Irby and Mangles, 351— 356, 446— 459 ; Hardy, 201— 204; Monro, i. 145—148; Madden, 
ii. 349— 357; Kobinson.i. 63—71 ; Arundale, 81—84; Elliot, ii. 479—486; Lindsay, ii. 64—66; Stephens, ii. ch. 15; Robinson 
(Dr.), in Am. Bib. Kepos., No. xxxiv; Paxton, 159 — 163; Geographical Journal, vol. vii. pt. 2, p. 456. 

b Is it not probable that Josephus and other old writers measured the Dead Sea as extending to these cliffs, as it seems actually 
to do at high water ; and that hence arises the greater length which they give to it ? 


the name of El Araba, quite to Akabah. These apparent cliffs I take to be the Akrabbim of 
Scripture. The Wady Jib begins far to the south of Mount Hor, beyond Wady Gharandel, 
and flows down in a winding course through the midst of El Araba, draining off" all its waters 
northward to the Dead Sea. Where we entered Wady Jib, at its northern end, it is half a 
mile broad, with precipitous banks of chalky earth or marl, 100 to 150 feet high, and exhibit- 
ing traces of an immense volume of water flowing northward. It may be recollected that the 
waters of Wady Jarafeh in the western desert, which drains the south-east part of that desert, 
far to the southward of Akabah, also flow northward into El Araba, and so, of course, through 
Wady Jib. Hence, instead of the Jordan flowing southward to the Gulf of Akabah, we find 
the waters of the Desert further south than Akabah flowing northward into the Dead Sea. 
The very nature of the country shows, without measurement, that the surface of the Dead Sea 
must be lower than that of the Red Sea or the Mediterranean." 

This is still stronger than the statement of Count de Bertou ; for while he divides the waters 
which flow into the Araba between the Dead Sea and the Elanitic Gulf, Dr. Robinson gives 
them all to the Dead Sea. But seeing that the statement of the former is the result of an 
actual observation, it is rather to be received, in this point, than that of Dr. Robinson, which 
is a conclusion in the absence of such observation. 

After this the serious and difficult question recurs, which was obviated by the explanation 
by which the waters of the Jordan were carried to the Red Sea — namely, What became of the 
Jordan, when, as is generally supposed, it merely passed through and watered the plain 
which the Dead Sea now covers ? — 1 . Were its waters consumed, like those of the Barrady at 
Damascus, in irrigating the fields and gardens, and in supplying water to the towns of the 
plain ? 2. May there not have been a lake in this basin, in former times, to receive the Jordan ; 
and then may not the " plain" or "vale" in question mean merely the borders of that lake ; 
according to what appears to be the meaning of Josephus, who seems to speak of the land of 
Sodom, as still existing as land, though in a condition sadly altered from its former state ? It 
would not be necessary to suppose that the lake then encroached beyond the channel and ford 
which we have already described, and where there are appearances which may be construed to 
intimate to the geographer that there was an ancient breach of the waters at this point, whereby 
the whole country southward, down to the hills, was inundated, as it still seems to be during the 
season of flood, although the water beyond the ford only remains permanently in the southern lake 
or back-water. This would give a tract above twenty miles long by ten or twelve broad, beside' 
the borders of the lake, as the land which was ruined at the overthrow of Sodom, and in which 
the " cities of the plain" were situated. In confirmation of this we might point to Gen. x. 19, 
in which the five cities, by being opposed to Gaza, seemed to be brought together near the 
present southern extremity of the lake. To this may also be added that Sodom, at least, could 
not well have been to the north of the channel formed by the tongue of land ; for the short 
time which was taken by the family of Lot in escaping to Zoar shows it could not have been 
far from that city, which unquestionably was on the borders of the present southern extremity 
of the Asphaltic Lake. When viewed apart from our preconceptions on the subject, there 
will be found no passage of Scripture which distinctly intimates that " the plain of Siddim " 
was submerged. It is described as having become a region of salt and burning, and bitterness, 
and desolation — but not of water. 3. If neither of the above hypotheses be considered tena- 
ble, there seems no alternative but to consider that the overthrow of Sodom was attended by a 
far greater and more extensive derangement of the earth's surface — by the depression of high 
levels and the elevation of low ones through large tracts of country, than has hitherto been 
imagined, or than the Scripture would lead us to expect. We refrain at present from attempt- 
ing to make up our minds to any of these alternatives, expecting that some further and 
clearer light may speeddy be obtained from the researches which are now in progress, or 
which we may hope soon to be undertaken. 

We will now proceed to notice the streams which fall into the Mediterranean. As they 

R Pages e xi— cxiii. 



have all been named, and some of them slightly noticed in the survey of the coast given in 
the last Chapter, we shall now confine our attention to those which cross "the plain of the sea" 
southward from Sidon; and among these we shall neglect the small brooks and torrents, and 
limit our attention to those which are of some relative importance, or with which any circum- 
stance of interest is connected. 

The river Kasmia, which is now generally supposed to be the same as the ancient Leontes, 
is the first which, within this limit, requires notice, and is also by far the most important, after 
the Orontes, of all the Syrian rivers which advance to "the great sea." It has already been 
noticed in a general way (cliii). This river is formed by the junction of several streams, all 
of which rise in the neighbourhood of Baalbec. After this junction it retains for more than half 
its course the name of the stream which contributes the most largely to its formation, the Nahr 
Liettani, after which it takes that of Nahr Kasmia, the origin of which Sir W. Drummond 
would refer to the verb kasam, which signifies to divide, as in fact the territory of the Tyrians 
was separated by this river from that of their Sidonian neighbours on the north. Pursuing its 
way southward between the two Lebanons, it receives the waters which fall from both : and, 
after a course of above eighty miles, enters the sea about four miles to the north of Tyre. About 
the middle of its course, this river was crossed by Maundrell on a stone bridge of five arches. 
He calls it here "a large river" (in April). The bridge was some years since repaired, and 
a khan, for the accommodation of travellers, built near it by the Emir Beshir. Some thirteen 
miles lower down, the river was crossed by Buckingham on his journey from Damascus to 
Sidon (also in April) by a bridge of two arches. The stream was here about 100 feet wide 
and the water deep and rapid in its course. On its approach to the sea, the banks of this 
river are very picturesque. It comes out into the plain from an extensive valley among the 
mountains, as a large and deep river, and continues its course to the sea in various windings 
and meanders. On the usual road between Sidon and Tyre there was formerly a stone bridge 
of four arches over the stream. This was in ruins at the time of Maundrell ; and its place is 
now supplied by a bridge of one arch, below which the stream encloses a small island. 

Some of the older writers very erroneously identify this river with the ancient Eleutherus, 
an error which we believe Maundrell was the first to point out. It does not appear that this 
river is on any occasion mentioned in Scripture. It was on the shore between the mouth of 
this river and Tyre that the Phoenicians were accustomed to collect the shell-fish called the 
murex, from which they obtained the dye, so famous under the name of the Tyrian purple. a 

The Nahr Kardanus is unquestionably the river Belus of the ancients, from which it would 
appear that it was consecrated to Baal by the ancient Phoenicians. It is not mentioned in 
Scripture, but is noticed by Josephus under the name of Beleus. It is a slender stream, 
the source of which does not appear to be known, although it cannot be very distant. Quite 
near its mouth this river is shallow enough in summer to be forded on horseback. Its sands 
have a fine appearance, and are famous in ancient history and fable, which attributes the first 
discovery of glass to the effects produced by a culinary fire kindled upon them. Although it was 
ultimately found that other sands possessed the same property, yet it appeared that the sand of 
this river might be vitrified with more ease, and that the glass was of finer quality than any 
other. The Phoenicians took advantage of this discovery, and the Sidonian glass was in ancient 
times very famous. Vessels visiting this coast used to take this sand as ballast. Down to a 
comparatively recent date, vessels from Italy continued to remove it for the glass-houses of 
Italy and Genoa; and Mariti affirms that the magnificent glasses, for the manufacture of which 
that people were so long celebrated, were made from the sands of this river. It seems, how- 
ever, that the same or nearly the same qualities were possessed by the sands of all the rivers 
of this coast, from Tyre to Joppa. b 

"That ancient river, the river Kishon," occurs farther to the south, traversing the same 

a Drummond's ' Origines,' iii. 117; Burckhardt, 4, 8, 9, 15, 237 ; D'Arvieux, ii. 5 ; Maundrell, 48, 120; Buckingham, 'Arab 
Tribes," 407; Irby and Mangles, 199. 

b Pliny, Hist. Nat., xxxvi. 26; Strabo, Geog., lib. xvi. p. 1077; Josephus, De Bell. lib. ii. c. 10, sect. 10; Keland, p. 289; 
Maundrell, 56; Shaw, ii. 32; Mariti, ii. 110, 111; Clarke, iv. 125, 126; Buckingham, 'Palestine,' ch. v. and vii. ; Monro, 
ii . 55. 


plain, and flowing into the south-eastern corner of the same hay of Acre. It is a much more 
considerable stream than the Belus, and is historically celebrated in Scripture for the over- 
throw of Sisera's host by its overflowing stream. It is usual to trace the source of this river 
to Mount Tabor, but Dr. Shaw affirms that, in travelling on the south-eastern brow of Mount 
Carmel, he had an opportunity of seeing the sources of the river Kishon, three or four of 
which lie within less than a furlong of each other, and are called Ras el Kishon, or the head 
of the Kishon. These alone, without the lesser contributions nearer the sea, discharge water 
enough to form a river half as large as the Isis. During the rainy season all the water which 
falls on the eastern side of Mount Carmel, or upon the rising grounds to the southward, 
empties itself into it in a number of torrents, at which times it overflows its banks, acquires a 
wonderful rapidity, and carries all before it. It was, doubtless, at such a season that the host 
of Sisera was swept away in attempting to ford it. But such inundations are extemporaneous 
only, without any duration ; a for the course of the Kishon, which, according to this account, 
is only about seven miles in length, runs very briskly, until within half a league of the sea. 
But when not augmented by rains, it never falls into the sea in a full stream, but insensibly 
percolates through a bank of sand, which the north winds have thrown up at its mouth. In 
this state Shaw himself found it in the month of April, 1722, when he passed it. 

Notwithstanding Shaw's contradiction, the statement that the Kishon rises in Mount Tabor 
has been repeated by later writers as confidently as ever. Buckingham's statement, being 
made with reference to the view from Mount Tabor itself, deserves some attention. He says 
that near the foot of the mountain, on the south-west, are " the springs of Ain el Sherrar, 
which send a perceptible stream through the centre of the plain of Esdraelon, and form the 
brook Kishon of antiquity." Farther on, on reaching the hills which divide the plain of 
Esdraelon from that of Acre, the same traveller saw the pass through which the stream makes 
its way from the one plain to the other. From the attention we have had occasion to pay to 
similar rivers, it does not seem to us difficult to reconcile these seemingly adverse statements. 
It will very probably be found, on further inquiry, that the remoter sources of the river are 
really in Mount Tabor ; but that the supplies derived from this source dry up in summer 
when not augmented by rains or contributary torrents ; whereas the copious supply from the 
nearer springs at Ras el Kishon, with other springs lower down, keep it up from that point 
as a perennial stream, even during the drought of summer. Thus, during one part of the year, 
the source of the full river will appear to be in Mount Tabor, while, during another part, the 
Ras el Kishon will be the source of the diminished stream. 

The banks of the river are very sandy, as are also the shores of the bay into which it flows. 
Hence the interception of its waters, when low, by the sand thrown up at its mouth, and 
instead of passing to the sea, forms a small lake near Caipha. Of course it overcomes this 
obstruction in the season of rain. At such times the increase in the quantity and force of its 
waters is so disproportionately great that many serious accidents have occurred in the attempt 
to cross it. For one instance, Mariti reports that the English dragoman and his horse were 
drowned in such an attempt, in the month of February, 1161. In April, Monro found the 
river deep and about thirty yards wide : he crossed it in a boat. b 

Of the brooks which flow from the hills of Samaria, and pass to the sea across the plains 
which lie between Carmel and Joppa, the two named Zerka and Kanah are those only that 
require particular notice. 

The Zerka, which must not be confounded with a far more important river of the same 
name beyond Jordan, seems to take its name from a village so called upon its banks : it 

a We have ourselves observed of such rivers in different countries, that the duration of the inundation is proportioned to the 
length of their course. 

b The reader may be cautioned not to apply the rule of this and similar livers to the Jordan. By so doing, the statements we 
have given might be made to seem contradictory. The fact is that the Jordan, and other such rivers, receive a great increase of 
waters after the rainy season is over, from the melting of the snows of the mountains near its source. But such rivers as the Kishon 
are increased by rains only, and their inundations are therefore over before those of the rivers, which are increased by the melting 
of distant snows. The increased heat of late spring or early summer is necessary to produce these latter inundations. 

The authorities for the above notice of the Kishon are— Shaw, ii. 32; Maundrell, 56 ; Mariti, 112; Buckingham, i. 168, 177; 
Monro, 55. 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. cxciii 

falls into the sea about three miles north of the ruins of Caesarea. It is of course an in- 
considerable brook, save in winter; and is chiefly remarkable for its supposed identity 
with the Crocodile River of Pliny. From its proximity to Csesarea, there is good reason 
to conclude that this is the river that he intended to denote by the name. The Arabs in the 
neighbourhood positively affirm to travellers that crocodiles exist in this stream, but admit 
that they are of small size. As they do not appear to be found in any other river of Palestine, 
those travellers who have been induced by the correspondence between Pliny and the modern 
inhabitants to pay some attention to the subject, have been led to conclude that some large 
species of lizards have been taken for small crocodiles; while others, going faither in their 
belief, think that there are real crocodiles, of degenerated growth, descended either from such 
as an Egyptian colony in this neighbourhood imported as sacred animals, or from such as might 
have been brought here, as to Rome, to be used in the zoological combats which were cele- 
brated at Caesarea in the time of the Herods and of the Roman procurators. But the proper 
seat of these crocodiles, according to most accounts, was a lake, with which this river commu- 
nicated, and to which the Arabs give the name of Moiet-el-Temsah, or the Crocodile Lake, 
which is exactly the name (Crocodilorum Lacus) given to it by the ancients. Buckingham and 
others remark, that they could not find this lake in the site assigned to it by D'Anville; but 
this does not prove that it does not (or at least did not) exist in a situation somewhat different 
from that which he assigns to it : for its name has descended to us from ancient times, and 
there are not wanting travellers who affirm that they have seen it. And in such cases, the 
affirmation of those who tell us that they have seen, is of more weight than the negation of those 
who tell us that they have not seen. Among those who describe the lake as having seen it, are 
Brocard, Breidanbach, Roger, and Surius, who were all something more than mere passing 
travellers. Roger describes it as a lake of soft water, about a league in circuit, deep, and 
abounding in fish ; and as being formed by springs arising within itself. Both he and Surius 
relate an anecdote which seems to have made much noise in their time — that in the year 1628, 
a crocodile issued from among the reeds of the lake of such size and strength that it was able 
to seize and carry off in its jaws an ass, dragging also a large stone to which the animal had 
been tied by the peasant to whom it belonged. Nau also affirms that calves have sometimes 
been carried off by the crocodiles of the river. One may suspect that the sins of other 
creatures have, in these cases, been imputed to the crocodiles ; but with respect to the lake 
itself, the verity of the old geographers and travellers have been confirmed by the Rev. V. 
Monro, who observed it, and describes it as the Crocodile Lake of D'Anville, and the Moiet- 
el-Temsah of the Arabs. It is a small low-lying lake, overgrown with reeds, and abounding 
in fish. It is supplied by a stream running from the east. The latter was crossed by the 
traveller, half a mile beyond, near to where it issued from a small mere, by an artificial 
passage through a ridge of rock that still bears traces of a bridge or arch which once spanned 
the channel. 3 - 

About twelve miles to the south of Csesarea, is the Nahr-el-Kasab, a brook, of which we find 
nothing memorable save the probability of its being the " river Kanah" of Josh. xvi. 8. 
and xvii. 9. 

About ten miles to the south of this, and nearly the same distance to the north of Joppa, is 
another small river, shallow, and easily forded, near its mouth, even in January. It is called 
Nahr-el-Arsouf, and is chiefly noted for a celebrated castle of the same name which stood near 
its mouth, in the time of the Crusades. b 

A little before we reach Joppa, we cross the Nahr-Abi-Petros, over which there is a bridge, 
and on whose border the ancient city Lod, otherwise called Lydda and Diospolis, stood. 

About twelve miles to the south of Joppa, the traveller reaches the Nahr-el-Rubin, which 
he usually crosses close to the remains of a Roman bridge, one great arch of which and part of 
another still remain, overgrown with bushes and weeds. The river above the bridge was 

a Brocard, in prefat. Locor. T. Sanctse ; Breidanbach (not paged); Roger, 77; Surius, 353; Maiiti, ii. 221; Buckingham, i. 
215; Hardy, 123; Monro, ii. 70, 81 . 
•> Buckingham, ii. 226 ; Mariti.ii. 221. 

VOL. I. 2 C 


nearly dry when crossed by Irby and Mangles in October, and filled with wild flowers and 
rushes. Below it these travellers noticed a handsome winding sheet of water, the banks of 
which were likewise covered with various water- flowers, and many black water-fowl were 
swimming on its surface. The water is bad, but not salt. It takes its present name from 
that of a celebrated sheikh whose tomb stands on its northern bank. 

Ten miles to the south of this, and about a mile and a half south of Ashdod, we cross a 
rivulet which appears to be the Scriptural brook Sorek. This identification results from the 
considerations and bearings which enable us to determine with tolerable accuracy the situation 
of Eleutheropolis, which Eusebius tells us was on the river Sorek : and the present rivulet is 
the only one that corresponds with these indications. The stream was crossed by Dr. 
Richardson (in April) on a broad stone bridge, and it then offered the appearance of the bed 
of a river with stagnant water in several places. 

Between Askelon and Gaza are two small streams, concerning the history or names of 
which we have no information. 

Between two and three miles to the south of Gaza, is a rivulet called Wady Gaza, which 
seems to answer better than any other to the brook Bezor of Scripture. 3 - Early in April, 
Dr. Richardson found it a dry bed, about thirty yards wide. Below where he crossed there 
was stagnant water in several places ; and the route lay through a fine alluvial plain, which 
when there was water, seemed to be surrounded by the river. 

Now, pursuant to the plan we proposed to ourselves, we proceed to notice the streams which 
tend towards the great valley of the Jordan, beginning with those which flow down the 
western slopes — that is, from the proper Land of Canaan. These are few, and of small note 
— the rather that the streams which contribute to the original formation of the Jordan, north of 
the Lake Houle, have already been noticed. In fact, although between that lake and the end of 
the Dead Sea there are numerous brooks, each with its own name, there is hardly one among 
them of even sufficient Scriptural or historical interest to claim the notice to which it would 
not, from its physical importance be, entitled. The brook Kedron may be an exception ; and 
to that our attention must be confined. 

This stream is a mere winter torrent, above six months in the year dry, and deriving its 
sole importance from the frequent allusions to it in the Sacred History, which necessarily 
resulted from its flowing through the deepest and most extensive of the natural valleys by 
which Jerusalem is confined. The ravine in which this stream is collected takes its origin 
above a mile to the north-east of the city. This ravine deepens as it proceeds, and forms an 
angle opposite the temple. It then takes a south-east direction, and, passing between the 
village of Siloam and the city, runs off in the direction of the Dead Sea. It is, as we have 
said, dry in summer, but even then its wide and stony bed bears witness that in winter, after 
heavy rains, it becomes a large and powerful torrent. The Kedron continues its way to the 
Asphaltic Lake through a singularly wild ravine, the course of which few travellers have 
traced. Of these are Madden and Stephens, who both passed through it, the one in going to 
and the other in coming from the Dead Sea. It is in this ravine that the celebrated monastery 
of Santa Saba is situated, of which we have already taken notice. Speaking of his approach 
to this monastery through this ravine, Mr. Madden says, " After traversing for the last hour a 
wild ravine formed by two rugged perpendicular mountains, the. sides of which contained 
innumerable caverns, which once formed a sort of troglodyte city in which the early Christians 
resided, the tradition of this convent is, that 80,000 of them were massacred in this valley by 
the Saracens. The sight of the convent in this desolate place was like a glimpse of paradise." 
Leaving it next day, he gives no informing particulars of his farther route, save that he 
" marched through the bed of the Kedron, along the horrible ravine which he entered the 
day before." At length he says, he got into the plain, his course over which led him to the 
top of the cliffs which bound the lake on the north-west. But he takes no further notice of 

a See 2 Sam. and p. 460 of the j>reseut History. 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. cxcv 

the bed of the Kedron, which, it appears, approaches the lake in that quarter, where the 
mountains are very high and precipitous. 

We will not quit the brook Kedron without some notice of the other waters of Jerusalem 
which its bed receives. And first of the "Fountain" and the "Pool of Siloam," whose 
surplus waters flow in a petty streamlet to that bed. Concerning these there has been some 
confusion through the indiscriminate application of names by different travellers, and the 
most lucid account we have met with is that with which the public has lately been furnished 
by Mr. Wilde. a 

" The Fountain of Siloam, sometimes called the Upper Pool of Siloam, is situated in an 
indentation formed in the side of the hill, beneath the south-eastern angle of the city wall, and 
nearly opposite the place where the Tyropcean Valley separates the eastern sides of Mounts 
Zion and Moriah. It is entered by an arched vault by which a flight of steps leads down to 
a low-vaulted passage cut in the solid rock, and which leads in a north-west direction beneath 
the site of the ancient temple. The often repeated, and, I might say, the hacknied quotation, 

" Siloa's brook that flow'd 
. Fast by the Oracle of God," 

has never, I think, been properly understood, because both this fountain and that called the 
pool of the same name, are placed at a distance from the site of the temple. The following 
fact may illustrate and explain this quotation : — 

During the rebellion that I have already alluded to, b the Arabs of the opposite village 
(Siloam) gained access to the city by means of the conduit of this pool, which again rises to 
the surface within the mosque of Omar. Dr. Richardson conjectured that this subterraneous 
passage proceeded under the mountain, but heretofore no proof could be given of its doing so, 
nor was it known to travellers that it communicated with the interior of the city. The 
passage is evidently the work of art. The water in it is generally about two feet deep, and a 
man may go through it in a stooping position." Mr. Wilde further supposes that this may 
have been used by the ancient inhabitants as a sallyport, or secret outlet from the temple ; 
for he states that it cannot have been made to conduct the water from the fountain into the 
city, inasmuch as it is lower than that point, and the stream flows down from it. If this be 
the case, it seems to us infinitely more likely that it was originally designed to cai'ry off the 
surplus water which was brought from the fountain of Etham into the temple. Those who 
wish to pursue the inquiry will find much to confirm this conjecture. Mr. Wilde informs us 
that the fountain of Siloam is " a mineral spring, of a brackish taste, and somewhat of the 
smell of Harrowgate water, but in a very slight degree. d It is said to possess considerable 
medicinal properties, and is much frequented by pilgrims. The remains of a church surround 
the vault at the top, and by the Latin fathers (and all Roman Catholic travellers) it is called 
the Fountain of the Blessed Virgin, from the supposition that she washed the linen of our Lord e 
in its sacred waters. 

" Continuing our course around the probable line of the ancient walls, along the gentle slope 
of Zion, we pass by the king's gardens, and arrive at the lower pool of Siloam placed in 
another indentation of the wall, at the southern extremity of Zion. It is a deep square cistern, 
lined with masonry, adorned with columns at the sides, and having a flight of steps leading to 

a * Narrative of a Voyage to Madeira, Teneriffe, and along the shores of the Mediterranean,' &c. By W. It. Wilde, M.R I. A. 
Dublin, 1840. 

b This was an outbreak in Jerusalem, in which the Arabs inhabiting the village of Siloam were the ringleaders. 

c Perhaps not to modern travellers; but Mr. W. might read Quaresmius, lib. iv. pereg. vii. cap. 28 (' De fonte B. Marice 
Virginis'). In the two preceding chapters, respecting the lower pool {Le Origine et Terminatiune Funtis alloc), some valuable 
matter, new because old, might also be found. 

d "I brought home ajar of this water, and am informed by Professor Kane, who has analysed it, that it is a strongly saline 
and sulphureous spring, whose specific gravity is 10035; that it contains much common salt, some carbonate and sulphate of 
lime, a trace of muriate of magnesia, together With a quantity of surphuretted hydrogen gas." — This seems rather a loose way of 
stating the results of an analysis. 

e " And her own," Nau reports, but with his usual good sense adds to his report of the tradition, " C'est ce tju'on en dit, mais 
je ne scay pas, d'ou on l'a appris." In his time the fountain was highly reverenced (as it still is) by the Moslems, and Christians 
were obliged to pay for permission to descend, and Jews were altogether excluded. 

2 c 2 



[Chap. VI. 

the bottom in which there were about two feet of water. It communicates by a subterraneous 
passage with the fountain just described, from which it is distant about six hundred yards. 

[Pool of Siloam.] 

The water enters the pool by a low-arched passage, into which the pilgrims, numbers of whom 
are generally to be found around it, put their heads as part of the ceremony, and wash their 
clothes in the purifying stream that issues from it. 

" A very remarkable circumstance is related of this pool and fountain : — It is reported that 
the water in them is subject to a daily tide; and by some writers it is stated to ebb and flow 
under lunar influence. I must confess that in my first visits to the place, I was much 
astonished, for not only did I see the mark to which the recently-fallen water had risen, but I 
also perceived that its height was greater at different times of the same day. Many ingenious 
hypotheses, and many learned arguments have been adduced to account for this extraordinary 
phenomenon — the wonder and admiration of the pilgrim and traveller. I think, however, 
that it may thus be accounted for. The stream or outlet from the lower pool is conducted by 
artificial channels through the gardens and parterres that lie immediately beneath it in the 
valley ; and it is the chief source of their fertility ; for as they are mostly formed of earth 
which has been carried from other places, they possess no original or natural soil capable of 
supporting vegetation. Now, immediately on the water-course leaving the pool, it is divided 
into numbers of little aqueducts for the purpose of irrigating these different plots: but as there 
is but little water in the pool during the dry season, the Arabs dam up the several streams, in 
order to collect a sufficient quantity in small ponds adjoining each garden ; and this they must 
all do at the same time, or there would be an unfair division of the fertilising fluid. These 
dams are generally made in the evening, and the water is drawn off in the morning, or some- 
times two or three times a-day ; and thus the reflux of the water that they hold gives the 
appearance of an ebb and flow. 

" The surplus water is finally collected into a small stream that joins the brook Gihon, 
near its junction with the Kedron, but both these latter streams were dry during our 

Chap. VI.] LAKES AND RIVERS. cxcvii 

This lower pool of Siloam has been generally regarded as that in which, by our Saviour's 
direction, the man born blind went and washed, and returned with the blessing of sight. 
(John ix. 7.) It has also been identified with the Ain Rogel, or Fuller's Fountain (literally 
Foot Fountain), mentioned in Josh. xv. 7 ; xviii. 16, and 2 Sam. xvii. 17 ; and this with more 
likelihood than the reference which some others make to the upper fountain. But the point 
is uncertain, and not of much importance. Nau points to a fountain below the village of 
Siloam, on the other side of the valley, which he thinks agrees more than either of them with 
the Scriptural intimations which refer to Ain Rogel. It was from the fountain as dis- 
tinguished from the pool of Siloam a that the Jews were wont to draw water in a golden vessel, 
at the feast of tabernacles, and bear it with great ceremony to the temple, where it was poured 
out as a libation at the altar . b 

The stream of Gihon, mentioned as falling into the Kedron at the angle where the eastern 
and southern valleys meet, is connected with one, or rather two, of the numerous reservoirs 
prepared by the early sovereigns of Judah for supplying Jerusalem with water. The reservoirs 
now in question are in the western valley, called the Valley of Gihon, whence they are named 
the Upper and Lower Pools of Gihon. The " Upper," being the northernmost, is nearly opposite 
the gate of Bethlehem, and the road to Jaffa passes close by it. It is a large basin, not as 
Pococke describes, " cut down about ten feet into the rock," but by running a strong wall 
across the ravine, walling the sides and covering them with a water-proof cement. As 
travellers note that it is always dry or almost dry, except in or after the season of rain, it 
seems designed to receive the waters which come down from the neighbouring hills. From 
this pool to the city there is a canal, which is uncovered part of the way, and which is said to 
go to the pool which is inside the Bethlehem gate, in the street near the Holy Sepulchre. 
This canal was obviously intended to conduct a portion of the surplus waters from the outer 
pool to that within the city ; for the. design of all the pools appears to have been to collect the 
rain-water for the common uses of the city, and even for drink in case of need. 

About a mile c below this, in the valley, below Mount Zion, is another much, larger reser- 
voir, designed apparently not only to collect the intermediate waters of the valley, but to share 
the surplus water of the upper pool. It is made like the other by building a wall across the 
valley. The basin is about 250 paces long by 100 broad; and the bottom is very narrow, as 
the sides shelve downward like steps. The basin is supplied by no natural springs, and is 
now dry except after rains. The surplus water from this pool, as well as that collected below 
it, passes off by the southern valley and falls into the Kedron. Tradition ascribes the credit 
of these pools to Solomon, as it does all similar works in the land. But it seems better to 
regard this lower pool at least as the Avork of Hezekiah, who is said to have " stopped the 
upper water-course of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of 
David;" which seems correctly to describe the situation of the lower pool, and the mode of 
its formation. The upper pool, and the communication between it and the city may have 
previously existed ; and it appears to have been in or near the spot that Solomon was anointed 
king by order of his father, while Adonijah was holding his royal feast at Ain Rogel, in the 
opposite valley. e The pool is not named, and indeed perhaps did not then exist. And the 
name Gihon, which alone is given, may have denoted a natural spring, or a well, for that it 
was a water, seems to be shown by the fact of the intended opposition to Adonijah, who was 
at the well of Rogel. 

There are few towns, and scarcely any metropolitan town, in which the natural supply of 
water is so inadequate as in Jerusalem ; hence the elaborate contrivances to collect and 
preserve the precious fluid, or to bring it to the town. And as we shall find no more suitable 

a This is shown by Lightfoot from the Jewish writers. See Chorog. Cent. chap. xxv. 

b The Jewish writers suppose the passage, " With joy ye shall draw water out of the wells of salvation " (Isa. xii. 3), to refer to 
this custom. And with more likelihood, seeing the time is distinctly indicated, it is supposed that Christ was actually witnessing 
this ceremony, when " On the last day, that great day o/the feast [of tabernacles], Jesus stood and cried, saying, ' If any man thirst, 
let him come to me and drink,' " &c. 

d Course distance ; the direct distance is little more than half this. e 1 Kings i. 33. 


place than the present, we here take such notice of the works undertaken with this view, as its 
historical importance seems to require. 

Of the reservoirs within the town, the only one which need engage our attention is that 
which is identified as the Scriptural pool of Bethesda, as a description of which we cannot do 
better than transcribe the account recently given by Mr. Wilde : — 

" The place called Bethesda is an immense deep oblong excavation or cistern, somewhat 
similar to the pools of Solomon near Bethlehem. It is situated to the south of St Stephen's 
or the sheep-gate, immediately beneath the wall of Omar's mosque, and beside the antique 
cyclopean masonry that I noticed before in this locality. It is about two hundred and fifty 
feet long and thirty feet deep ; but now dry, and partly filled with dirt, rubbish, and brambles. 
The walls that form its sides are so curiously constructed that they demand attention. They 
are of immense thickness, and formed of several upright layers of masonry. The first, or 
that most distant from the inner side of the pool, is formed of large and perfectly square 
masses of stone laid in courses, but separated from each other by a band of intervening 
smaller stones in the shape of long bricks, placed with their ends out, and projecting from six 
to eight inches beyond the plane of the larger ones ; so that they thus formed a kind of reti- 
culated work. The square space left in the centre of each band of projecting stones is again 
filled up by others still smaller ; and the central stone of this part is fitted into a square groove 
or notch cut about three or four inches deep in the original large blocks with the greatest 
nicety, and the whole joined together by strong cement. Over this is placed a firm coating 
of mortar, a couple of inches thick, and studded on its surface with small flat flints, and bits of 
marble ; and last of all, it was completely covered with a layer of strong cement of a whitish 
colour. The walls have been much dilapidated in several places, and I had an opportunity of 
examining them carefully. This work is best seen on the southern side of the excavation, 
where it lies beneath some ruined houses. In the western end the remains of three arches are 
still in existence ; but the third is at present nearly choked up with the debris of old and ruined 
houses. These arches appear to have been formed as an entrance for the water, which was 
probably conveyed to them from the Bethlehem aqueduct." 

The site of the famous " Pools of Solomon," on the road to Bethlehem has been noticed in 
p. cxxiv., and on account of their connection by aqueducts with Jerusalem, the pools them- 
selves cannot be more suitably noticed than in this place. 

It will be remembered that the narrow and fertile valley in which they are found is supposed 
to be the site of one of the undertakings of Solomon, of which he speaks in Eccles. ii. 5. 6., a 
and to be that in particular, to which there are allusions in the Canticles. It is also, with 
reason, conceived to be the place noticed by Josephus, who, when writing of Solomon, states : — 
" There was about fifty furlongs distant from Jerusalem, a certain place called Etham, very 
pleasant in fine gardens, and abounding in rivulets of water ; thither he was wont to go forth 
in the morning, sitting on high in his chariot." b 

The description of these pools which Mr. Wilde has furnished is so distinct and fresh, that 
we shall here introduce it : — 

" At the extremity of the valley, we arrived at the three enormous tanks, sunk in the side 
of a sloping ground, and which, from time immemorial, have been considered to be the work- 
manship of Solomon ; and certainly they are well worthy the man to whom tradition has 
assigned their construction. These reservoirs are each upon a distinct level, one above the 
other, and are capable of holding an immense body of water. They are so constructed, both 
by conduits leading directly from one to another, and by what may be termed anastomasing 
branches, that when the water in the upper one has reached to a certain height, the surplus 
flows off into the one below it, and so on into the third. These passages were obstructed and 

a " I made me gardens aud orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruits ; I made me pools of water, to water there- 
with the wood thatbringeth forth trees." 
*> Antiq. viii. 7- 

Chap. VI.] 



the whole of the cisterns were out of repair, when we visited them, so that there was hardly 
any water in the lowest, while the upper one was nearly full of good pure water. Small 

[Pools of Solomon.] 

aqueducts lead from each of these cisterns to a main one that conducts the water to Jerusalem. 
They are all lined with a thick layer of hard whitish cement, and a flight of steps leads to the 
bottom of each, similar to some of those in the holy city. Where the lowest cistern joins the 
valley of Etham, it is formed by an embankment of earth, and has a sluice to draw off the 
water occasionally. A short distance from the upper pool, I descended into a narrow stone 
chamber, through which the water passes from the neighbouring spring on its course to the 
cisterns. This likewise has a traditionary tale to tell. It is said to be the sealed fountain to 
which allusion is made in the fourth and fifth chapter of the Canticles. From an examina- 
tion of this place, it appeared to me that several springs empty themselves into these 
reservoirs, which are partly cut out of the solid rock, and partly built with masonry. 

" Nigh to the upper pool there is a large square castle, apparently of an order of architecture 
belonging to the Christian era ; and, in all probability, so placed to guard these water-works 
during the period of the Holy War, for we know to what extremities some of the early 
Crusaders were reduced from the different wells being poisoned by the enemy upon their 
approach to Jerusalem. 

" These fountains having been already described by Maundrell, Pococke, and others, I 
shall not dwell longer upon them, except to mention two circumstances, that it appears 
extraordinary have not been adverted to by former travellers ; the first is, their great similarity 
to the fountains assigned to Solomon at Ras-el-Ain, near Tyre ; a and the fact of both being 

a .. w e visited the cisterns of Solomon, at Ras-el-Ain, which, tradition says, he erected in return for the assistance afforded by 
King Hiram in building the temple. There are two sets of these cisterns ; the first we came to were small, and in ruins, and one 
evidently of a later date than the second. Their decayed state allowed us to examine the mode in which they were constructed, 
in order to raise the body of water to the required level. This water now finds its way direct to the sea, turning a mill in its 
course. No doubt can exist, I think, but that both these and the larger ones are natural springs, which, by being enclosed in 
those water-proof walls, raised the water to the height necessary for conducting it to the city. To suppose them, as has been 
asserted, supplied by a river having a higher source in the adjacent mountains is unreasonable ; for had such been the case, why 
not conduct it from the highest point at once, instead of bringing it into a valley, in which both of these cisterns are situated ? 
The larger cisterns are about half a mile farther on to the south ; the ground which intervenes betw een them and the lesser ones 
is highly fertile, and was covered with green corn and large groves of mulberry-trees — silk still forming a considerable article of 


natural springs, that were pent up so as to raise the water they contained to the level of its 
final destination. The second is, that these springs were originally collected into one stream, 
which must then have formed a considerable rivulet, and running through this valley, finally 
discharged its waters into the Asphaltine Lake. 

" It was beside these water-works that Ibrahim Pascha suffered a defeat by the Arabs some 
years ago, when he made a sudden sortie from Jerusalem and attacked the rebels there, but 
their numbers more than doubled his. A garrison of five cavalry soldiers were stationed in 
the old castle. 

" On our return to the city, we followed the track of the aqueduct as far as Bethlehem, and 
afterwards crossed it in several places on the road. It is very small, but the water runs in it 
with considerable rapidity, as we could perceive by the open places left in it here and there. 
From the very tortuous course that this conduit takes in following the different sinuosities of 
the ground, being sometimes above and sometimes beneath the surface, it is difficult to 
persuade one's self that it does not run up hill, as many have supposed. Finally, it crosses 
over the valley of Rephaim, on a series of arches to the north of the lower pool of Gihon, and 
winding round the southern horn of Z on, is lost to view in the ruins of the city. It very 
probably supplied the pool of Bethesda, after having traversed a course of certainly not less 
than from thirteen to fifteen miles." 

We now turn our attention to the rivers which fall into the basin of the Jordan from the 
country east of that river, beginning in the north. 

The first of these is the river Jarmuch, a name which the Greeks softened into Hieromax, 
and which is now called by the Arabs Sheirat-el-Mandhour, from a celebrated chief named 
Mandhour, who is said once to have governed the whole of the tract of country through which 
the stream runs, from its source at Mezareib to its outlet into the Jordan, near the southern 
extremity of the lake of Tiberias. At the place — the supposed site of Ashtaroth Carnaim — to 
which the source of the river is thus ascribed, the stream issues from a lake about a mile in 
circumference. This lake has a small grass covered islet in the centre, and an abundance of 
fish in its waters, equal in size and not inferior in beauty to the gold-and-silver fishes which we 
keep in glass globes. The water is sweet and transparent, and the lake never dries. The 
stream which issues from hence flows in a westerly direction, with few windings, till it 
empties itself, at the point already indicated, into the Jordan, which is considered to be fifteen 
hours distant from the lake in a W.S.W. direction. On another occasion, Mr. Buckingham, 
to whom we owe our information, heard the source of the river described as being three days' 
journey from its mouth, in the direction of Bozra, at a place called Shellal ; but whether 

commerce here. These fountains are three in number, and one about thirty feet high ; they are situated in a small valley, about 
a quarter of a mile from the sea; and though they are much broken and neglected, yet they retain sufficient magnificence to 
attest their antiquity and former beauty. The largest is an octagon, and is about a hundred yards nearer to the sea than the 
others, to which it is joined by some very beautiful arches. A row of steps leads to the top, which is surrounded by a walk eight 
feet broad. Either it was originally arched over, or the lining is much worn away, as the top projects like a cornice. The aper- 
ture is twenty-two yards across, and on fathoming it, I found the depth not more than eleven yards in the centre, and about two 
at the edges; but its depth has probably been diminished by rubbish, &c, which from time to time it must have received. In- 
deed, one only wonders how these cisterns have at all stood amidst the many desolations that have visited this unhappy country. 
They are always full, and an immense body of water flows from them, which also turns several mills in its course, as shown iu 
the map. 

" I measured the thickness of the wall of the smallest fountain, and found it to be twenty-three feet. It was formed in this way 
— two walls of hewn stones, each from five to six feet long, enclosed a space which was filled up with a cement, consisting of lime, 
broken stones, and gravel. On the inner wall was a lining of mortar, studded with small stones, similar to that on the fountains 
of Solomon, near Bethlehem, and to that on the pool of Bethesda, at Jerusalem. 

" The water has been drawn from the aqueduct to supply the mills, and Ibrahim Basha was then erecting a Tabouch manufac- 
tory nigh to the cisterns. Besides the large quantity of water constantly passing off in the regular stream, it flows over the side of 
the cistern in one place, and forms a handsome cascade. Stalactites, like those on the arches in the plain, are seen here in 
immense masses, and some Doric capitals have been lately dug up at this place ; and an aqueduct runs from it in a southward 
direction, which was used probably for the purposes of irrigation. The main aqueduct is continued northward to the rock, or 
citadel, and is supported by arches at one place only. On the morning of our visit, some Arab women were baking their bread, 
made by pouring batter upon the heated pan, a practice much referred to in the Book of Samuel. The existence of these fountains 
prior to the time of Alexander has been called in question by a learned writer ; but no stronger proof is needed of their haviug 
been constructed previous to the building of Insular Tyre than that which is furnished by the aqueduct running direct to the rock, 
and afterwards turning back towards the island, to which it could have been brought in half the distance, and with much less 
obstruction, from the irregularities of the ground. Beyond these fountains is an extensive plain, bounded by the lower range of 


implying thereby a cataract or rapids, as that word does on the Nile, he could not clearly 
understand. The fact is that the various streams which contribute to form the river Jarmuch 
sweep a wide tract of country to the east and north-east of its estuary ; and as many of these 
have a far more remote source than that which comes from the lake at Mezareib, it is difficult 
to understand why this should preferably be considered the source of the river, unless that it 
is the most remarkable and the best known. It is likely, however, although we have no 
assurance of it, that these remoter streams are dry in the summer, and that the only perennial 
stream is that which issues from the lake, in which case its claim to be regarded as the 
source of the river may be admitted. But nothing is in general more difficult than to assign 
their true sources to rivers obscurely known : and as it is a matter of little interest, except to 
scientific inquirers, it is only under peculiar circumstances that we have allowed it to engage 
our attention. 

The body of water which the river Jarmuch contributes to the Jordan is very considerable. 
Indeed, at the point (a little above the estuary) where it was crossed by Mr. Buckingham, 
early in February, he found it not fordable without difficulty, as the stream was there broader, 
deeper and more rapid, than the Jordan at the time (a fortnight before) and place of his 
crossing that river, above Jericho.'" 1 

The river Jabbok now bears the name of Zerka. Its waters first collect in the south of 
Jebel Haouran. In crossing westward, across the dry plain, to enter the Belka, it more than 
once takes its course under ground, and is quite dry in the summer ; but after it has passed 
the plain, the contributions it receives make it a perennial stream, although in summer much 
attenuated. At the point where it enters the hilly region is the Kalaut-ez-Zerka, or castle of 
Zerka, which is one of the stations of the Syrian pilgrims' caravan. At this place " it is but 
a sorry rivulet embedded among reeds, but its waters are clear and well tasted. " b At a point 
about midway between this place and the mouth of the river, where it was crossed by Buck- 
ingham, its course lies between tall and abrupt cliffs, about 500 feet high, which look as if 
separated by some convulsion of nature to give it passage. It is in fact a deep ravine in a 
plain, the dark sides of which are in general destitute of verdure, while the plain at the top, 
on both sides, is covered with a light red soil, and bears marks of high fertility. At the 
bottom of the ravine we find a small river flowing from the eastward, and which appears here 
to have just made a sharp bend from the northward, and from this point to go nearly west to 
discharge itself into the Jordan. " The banks of the stream were so thickly wooded with 
oleander and plane-trees, wild-olives, and wild-almonds in blossom, pink and white sickleyman- 
flowers, and others, the names of which were unknown to us, with tall and waving reeds, at 
least fifteen feet in height, that we could not perceive the waters through them from above, 
though the presence of these luxuriant borders marked the windings of its course, and the 
murmur of its flow was echoed through its long deep channel, so as to be heard distinctly 
from afar. On this [the northern] side of the stream, at the spot where we forded it, is a 
piece of wall, solidly built upon the inclined slope, constructed in an uniform manner, though 
of small stones, and apparently finished at the end which was toward the river, so that it 
never could have been carried across, as we at first supposed, either for a bridge or to close 
the pass. This was called by the Arabs, Shuqhl beni-Israel, or the work of the sons of 
Israel; but they knew of no other traditions regarding it. The river where we crossed it, at 
this point, was not more than ten yards wide, but it was deeper than the Jordan and nearly as 
rapid, so that we had some difficulty in fording it. As it ran in a rocky bed, its waters 
were clear, and we found their taste agreeable." 

We know not that the river has been crossed lower down than this by any traveller besides 
Burckhardt, from whose brief indication it appears still to flow in a deep valley, through 
banks overgrown with the solarium furiosum. As might be expected in the beginning of 
July, he found it " a small river;" but must, even on his own showing, be under some mis- 

a Buckingham's ■ Arab Tribes,' 163 ; ' Palestine,' ii. 29/, 305. b Robinson, ii. 171 . This was in November. 

c Buckingham's 'Palestine,' ii. 109; see also Lindsay, ii. 123. 

vol. i. 2d 


take in saying that it " empties itself into the Jordan about an hour and a half from the spot 
where it issues from the mountain. " a 

The Arnon, which, after the Jordan, is more frequently than any other river of the land 
named in the historical and prophetical Scriptures, now bears the name of Wady Modjeb, 
was pre-eminently the river of Moab, on which Aroer, one of the principal cities of that nation, 
was situated. It enters the Dead Sea, and is principally formed by the confluence of three 
streams (Wady Wale, Bahr Ledjoum, and Seyle Sayde), all of which have their origin in 
the remoter hills, beyond that lake, which overlook the eastern wilderness. Burckhardt 
crossed it in July, about twenty miles from its mouth. It has been more rarely visited than 
the other streams ; and the account rendered by Burckhardt is still the only good one we pos- 
sess. It seems to exhibit many of the same characteristics as the Jabbok. 

" The view which the Modjeb presents is very striking. From the bottom, where the river 
runs through a narrow strip of verdant level, about forty yards across, the steep and barren 
banks rise to a great height, covered with immense blocks of stone which have rolled down 
from the upper strata, so that when viewed from above, the valley looks like a deep chasm, 
formed by some tremendous convulsion of the earth, into which there seems no possibility of 
descending to the bottom. The distance from the edge of one precipice to that of the opposite 
one is about two miles in a straight line. We descended the northern bank of the Wady by a 
footpath which winds among the broken masses of rock, dismounting on account of the steep- 
ness of road There are three fords across the Modjeb, of which we took that the most 

frequented. I had never felt such suffocating heat as I experienced in this valley, from the 
concentrated rays of the sun and their reflection from the rocks. We were thirty-five minutes 
in reaching the bottom. The river, which flows in a rocky bed, was almost dried up (in 
July) ; but its bed bears evident marks of its impetuosity during the rainy season ; the shat- 
tered fragments of large pieces of rock which had been broken from the banks nearest the 
river, and carried along by the torrent being deposited at a considerable height above the 
present channel of the stream. A few defle and willow-trees grow on its banks." b 

Of the smaller lakes, or rather pools, to be found in the country, some have been incident- 
ally noticed, and the rest are of too little consequence to require notice in this work. Mr. 
Monro indeed mentions that on approaching the plain of Esdraelon, near the hill on which 
stands the castle of Sanhoor, he saw " a lake about six miles long by three in width, which 
had been formed within a short time, from some unknown cause. The tract of land over 
which it had spread was arable, and in many places the tops of the corn were visible above 
the water. The muleteers, though in the habit of travelling upon that route, had never seen 
it before, and one of them could not be persuaded that it was water, until he had approached 
close to the brink, but believed it to be the illusion of the mirage, which having seen in the 
desert, he supposed might exist there also." Lest the lake thus described should find a place 
in maps, we may mention that it has been noticed by no subsequent traveller who has pursued 
the same route ; and that the appearance witnessed was probably no other than a temporary 
inundation, caused by recent heavy rains, which the heat of the ensuing summer soon eva- 
porated. Large tracts in and bordering on the plain of Esdraelon, as well as on the plain of 
the coast are thus laid under water in the wet season. 

a Burckhardt, 347. b Burckhardt, 372-3. c See before, p. cxvii. 

Chap. VI ] 




O The Name of the Jordan, p. clviii. — 
Various have been the etymologies assigned 
to the name of this river. It happened that 
a party of the tribe of Dan established them- 
selves near one of the apparent sources of the 
Jordan, and gave the name of Dan to the con- 
quered town of Laish. Hence the etymologists 
have rarely been able to get rid of the notion 
that the last member of the name Jordan 
must be in some way referred to the tribe of 
Dan. The explanation which ascribes the 
name to the union of two streams, respectively 
called Jor and Dan, to form the river and the 
name of Jordan, is so pretty that it deserves 
to be correct. This explanation, as applied, 
assumes that of these two streams the Dan 
was that which arose near the city of that name ; 
but the only fact bearing on this point which 
we have been able to find (adduced in the 
text) would rather ascribe the name of Jor to 
this stream, and of Dan to the other. But as 
the tribe of Dan certainly occupied the terri- 
tory in which both streams rise, this fact would 
not disprove the etymology, as the name might 
be derived from the tribe if not from the town. 
Besides, the two sources thus denominated 
are so near each other, as to make the distinc- 
tion of little importance, since both must have 
been near the city of Dan. 

Another etymology, however, derives the 
name from the words "W./or, and \"\, dan, 
that is, the river Dan, the former being an 
Egyptian word adopted by the Hebrews to 
denote a river or brook, and especially the 
Nile and its branches. Of those who adopt 
this interpretation, some have the 1~T as a proper 
name, supposing it derived from the tribe of 
Dan ; while others regard it as an appellative, 
and finding that Dan may mean pleasure, 
translate the name, River of pleasure. But 
the word may also mean deep, profound; and 
hence others will have the name to signify the 
deep river, a distinction sufficiently applicable 
to it, by a comparative reference to the other 
rivers of the country. 

But another class of interpreters, observing 
that the river is called Jordan long before the 
tribe of Dan, or even the founder of that tribe 
existed, and feeling an objection to the suppo- 
sition that in the Book of Genesis this name 
is proleptically assigned to the river, think it 
the better course to derive the name from the 
word "JT, jarad, " to flow down," that is, 
" swiftly," and suppose the river to have been 

thus named with reference to the rapidity of 
its course. 

Our own opinion is, that the second member 
of the name dan, does not at all refer to the 
tribe of that name ; for, of all things, rivers 
most usually retain the names they originally 
received, and it was not likely that the 
Hebrews, so late as the time of the judges, 
gave a new name to a principal river which 
must have had a well-known and recognised 
name for ages. We therefore believe that 
Jordan was its actual name in the time of 
Abraham. But although inclining to the in- 
terpretation which derives the name from the 
verb ~J"V, we do not feel quite decided against 
those other interpretations which equally ex- 
clude the reference to the word dan as a proper 
name. Indeed, it might be strongly argued in 
favour of the Jor being understood in the 
sense of river, that the phrase " the river 
Jordan" never occurs in the Bible — it is always 
" the Jordan." But it may be added that the 
corresponding word J>JL occurs in Syriac in the 
sense of a sea, a water. Thus in excluding all 
reference to the tribe of Dan, we are far from 
being at any loss for an etymology of the word 

( 2 ) The Stade, p. clxi. — We shall be unable 
in this place to develop our views on this 
subject to the extent we once intended. The 
remarks we may offer may be well introduced 
by the following, from the Introduction to 
Major Rennel's ' Comparative Geography of 
Western Asia.' 

" Of these (stades) there were both Greek and 
Roman. It was originally a Grecian measure ; 
but afterwards applied by the Romans to the 
sub-division of their mile, which consisted of 
eight stades. Hence a degree consisted of 
600 Roman stades only ; although Strabo, 
following the Greeks, reckoned 700, and the 
mean of the different authorities among the 
Greeks 718 ; in the Euxine, taken around its 
whole circuit, about 708. These are the 
Grecian itinerary stades, and had no reference 
to the Olympic, which never appears to have 
been used for itinerary purposes. 

" When Polybius, Strabo, or Pliny are speak- 
ing after the Greeks, or treating of Grecian 
matters, antecedent to their times, they always 
used the Grecian itinerary stade ; but in what 
concerns Roman matters alone, the Roman 
stade. Strabo, when following the route of 

2 d 2 



[Chap. VI. 

Alexander, gives of course the identical number 
of stades, as well as the quality, which he found 
in the annals of the times ; and, moreover, gives 
the distance according to the number of stades 
actually marched over ; so that, after all, it was 
necessary, in order to obtain the direct distance, 
to deduct the proportion of winding of the road. 

" Pliny gives those distances almost univer- 
sally in Roman miles, in order, it may be sup- 
posed, to render the account more intelligible 
to his countrymen. It will be found that he 
turned the sums of Grecian stades into m p. 
by dividing by eight, which has the effect of 
increasing the distance, since it required nine 
and a half Grecian stades to make a Roman 
mile. However, this will be found to be true, 
by those who compare the distances in m p. 
in Pliny, with the stades in Strabo." 

Now this process is, we believe, that which 
has been applied with exaggerated effect to 
the measurements of Josephus ; so that his 
dimensions and distances, as reported to the 
English reader, are much larger than he in- 
tended them to be. Such mere Roman writers 
as Pliny, found it convenient to consider the 
Grecian stade equivalent to the eighth part of 
their mile, or their furlong, although nine and 
a half stades would be strictly required for 
that mile ; and our own writers, imitating in 
this the Romans, have translated the stade 
into furlong with still worse effect, seeing that 
our mile is so much longer than the Roman 
(which had seventy-five miles to the degree, 
whereas ours has sixty-nine and a half) that 
about ten and a quarter stades would be 
required to fill it out. The disproportion 
between the stade and the English " furlong," 
into which it is so usually rendered, will appear 
still greater when it is reflected that distances 
were usually stated by the ancients according 
to the road, although an English reader is apt 
to think of direct distances. The difference 
thus resulting is such, that it is considered the 
Roman mile of seventy-five to a degree becomes 
eighty-four to the degree, when allowance is 
made for the windings of the roads, to use the 
measurement in geographical construction. 

Now we consider, that, when all these cir- 
cumstances are taken into account, and applied 
to interpret the measures of Josephus, it will be 
found in most instances remarkably accurate, 
instead of being too large, as is usually con- 
sidered. We have no doubt that, writing in 
Greek, and of affairs in which the Romans were 
only ultimately and partially concerned, his 
stade was the same as that of the Greek writers, 
and, as above, of Polybius, Strabo, and Pliny, 
when speaking after the Greeks, or of Grecian 
affairs, and that, consequently, instead of 
rendering his stade into furlong, of which we 

have eight to our mile, we should consider that 
there were at least ten of his stades to our mile. 
The propriety of thus reducing his measure- 
ments into British miles is shown by the fre- 
quently very exact correspondence between 
them, as thus understood, and those which 
some modern travellers have furnished. We 
are content to have pointed out a subject of 
inquiry which to some of our readers may be 

In the ninth volume of the * Geographical 
Journal' there is a paper ' On the Stade, as a 
Linear Measure,' by Colonel Leake. It con- 
tains a large mass of valuable information on 
the subject ; but we have not ourselves re- 
sorted to it, as the conclusion of Major Rennel 
and other great geographers is more satis- 
factory to us than that which would bring the 
stade to a uniform standard. 

( 3 ) Water of the Dead Sea, p. clxxxi. — 
We cannot forbear subjoining in a note the 
lively account which Mr. Stephens gives of 
his experience on this point : — 

" From my own experience 1 can almost 
corroborate the most extravagant accounts of 
the ancients. I know, in reference to my own 
specific gravity, that in the Atlantic and 
Mediterranean I cannot float without some 
little movement of the hands, and even then 
my body is almost totally submerged ; but 
here, when I threw myself upon my back, my 
body was half out of the water. It was an ex- 
ertion even for my lank Arabs to keep them- 
selves under. When I struck out in swim- 
ming it was extremely awkward, for my legs 
were continually rising to the surface, and 
even above the water. I could have lain and 
read there with perfect ease. In fact I could 
have slept ; and it would have been a much 
easier bed than the bushes at Jericho. It was 
ludicrous to see one of the horses : as soon as 
his body touched the water, he was afloat, and 
turned over on his side : he struggled with all 
his force to preserve his equilibrium ; but the 
moment he ceased moving, he turned over on 
his side again, and almost on his back, kicking 
his feet out of water and snorting with terror. 
The worst of my bath was, after it was over, 
my skin was covered with a thick glutinous 
substance, which it required another ablution 
to get rid of; and after I had wiped myself 
dry, my body burnt and smarted as if it had 
been turned round before a roasting fire. My 
face and ears were incrusted with salt ; my 
hairs stood out, ' each particular hair on end,' 
and my eyes were irritated and inflamed, so 
that I felt the effects of it for several days. In 
spite of all this, however, revived and refreshed 
by my bath, I mounted my horse a new man." 



[Terrace Cultivation.] 

It has been a matter of anxious consideration in what form we might best and most compen- 
diously exhibit a vast body of information, which we have collected from a great variety of 
sources, respecting the climate, the seasons, the products, and the agricultural operations of 
Palestine. In the form of a History of the Months, it has appeared to us that the largest 
quantity of information on all these subjects might be brought into the smallest space ; while 
in that form, such information can perhaps be made more interesting to the general reader 
than in any other. 

Something of this kind has been very ably executed by J. G. Buhle and G. F. Walch, both 
in the year 1785, as competing prize essays, proposed by the learned Michaelis as professor 
at the university of Gottingen, in November, 1784. The prize was awarded to Buhle; but 
the merits of the. two essays were so nearly equal, that Walch only lost it through some inat- 
tention to one of the rules which had been laid down for the guidance of the competitors ; and 
its value was so highly estimated by Michaelis, that it was published under his auspices and 
with a highly commendatory preface from his pen. a The essay by Buhle is well known in 

a G. F. Walchii Calendarium PaUestina; CEconomicum, cum praf. J. D. Michaelis, Golting. 1785. 


this country. It was originally translated by Charles Taylor, and inserted among the ' Frag- 
ments ' appended to his edition of Calmet, under the title of ' An Economical Calendar of 
Palestine,' and, in various forms of abridgment, it has since formed the basis of the various 
' Calendars ' which have been offered to the English public. The other, by Walch, has not 
been translated, and is now but little known. In the present chapter we shall incorporate 
with our own ample materials whatever seems really valuable in the collections formed by 
both Buhle and Walch. Much information which existed in their time was overlooked by 
both these learned writers ; and a large quantity of valuable matter has accrued since they 
wrote. All this has been open to us, and has been carefully digested in the present chapter, 
which we have anxiously endeavoured to render a valuable analysis of all existing information 
on the subjects on which it treats. To increase, as we think, its interest, and the instruction 
we wish it to convey, we have used the Bible itself as a source of information, and have intro- 
duced descriptions of the agricultural operations which belong to the several months. It has 
been judged expedient to adduce the authority for every detail which is offered, even at the 
risk of giving to the page a more repulsive aspect than it might otherwise bear. 

Before entering upon this, it will, however, seem necessary to furnish the reader with such 
a general statement respecting the climate of Palestine, as may render more clear and satis- 
factory the observations which will be recorded under the several months. The reader must 
also be thus prepared to allow for the very remarkable differences of climate in Syria, and 
particularly in Palestine ; as, without a clear understanding on this point, every separate state- 
ment may give rise to serious misconceptions. For these purposes the general statement fur- 
nished by Volney is the best that can be supplied, and we therefore adopt it, with some 
abridgment, addition, and correction, for such a preliminary view as we require. 

" It is an opinion pretty generally received that Syria is a very hot country, but it will be 
necessary to make several distinctions ; first, on account of the difference of latitude, which, 
from one extremity to the other, is not less than six degrees ; secondly, from the natural divi- 
sion of the country into low and flat, and high and mountainous, which division occasions a still 
more sensible difference ; for while Reaumur's thermometer stands at twenty-five and twenty- 
six degrees upon the coast, it hardly rises to twenty or twenty-one among the mountains. 51 In 
winter, therefore, the whole chain of mountains is covered with snow, while the lower country 
is generally free from it, or at least it lies only for a short time. We must first then establish 
two general climates ; the one very hot, which is that of the coast, and the interior plains, 
such as those of Baalbec, Antioch, Tripoli, Acre, Gaza, Haouran, &c. ; the other temperate, 
and almost like our own, which is the climate of the mountains, at least at a certain height. 
The summer of 1784 was reckoned among the Druses one of the hottest they remembered, 
yet I never found the heat to be compared to that I had felt at Saide (Sidon) or 

" In this climate the order of the seasons is nearly the same as in the middle provinces of 
France; the winter, which lasts from November to March (exclusive), is sharp and rigorous. 
Not a year passes without snow, and the earth is frequently covered several feet deep with it 
for months together ; the spring and autumn are mild, and the summer-heat is absolutely 
insupportable. In the plains, on the contrary, as soon as the sun returns to the equator, the 
transition is rapid to oppressive heats, which continue to the end of October. But then the 
winter is so moderate, that the orange, date, banana, and other delicate trees, flourish in the 
open air ; and it appears equally extraordinary and picturesque to an European at Tripoli to 
behold under his windows, in the month of January, orange-trees, laden with flowers and 
fruit, while the lofty head of Lebanon is seen covered with ice and snow. It must, neverthe- 
less, be observed, that in the northern parts, and to the east of the mountains, the winter is 
more rigorous, without the summer being less hot. At Antioch, Aleppo, and Damascus, and 
in the Haouran, there are several weeks of frost and snow every winter, which arises from the 

a Along the coast of Syria and Tripoli, in particular, the lowest degrees to which the thermometer falls in winter are 8 and 9, 
(50 and 52 of Farenheit's) : in summer, in close apartments, it rises from 25-fc to 26 (88 to 90). As for the barometer, it is re- 
markable that at the latter end of May it fixes at 20 inches, and never varies till October. 


situation of the country still more than the difference of latitude ; for, in fact, all the plain to 
the east of the mountains is very high above the level of the sea, exposed to all the parching 
blasts of the north and north-east, and screened from the humid winds of the south and south- 
west. Besides, Antioch and Aleppo receive from the mountains of Scanderoon, which are 
within sight, an air which the snow that covers them so long must necessarily render very 

" Syria, therefore, unites different climates under the same sky, and collects, within a narrow 
compass, pleasures and productions, which nature has elsewhere dispersed at great distances 
of time and places. With us, for instance, seasons are separated by months ; there we may 
say they are only separated by hours. If in Saide or Tripoli we are incommoded by the 
heats of July, — in six hours we are in the neighbouring mountains, in the temperature of 
March : or, on the other hand, if chilled by the frosts of December, — at Besharri, a day's 
journey brings its back to the coast amid the flowers of May. a The Arabian poets have 
therefore said, that ' the Sannin b bears winter on his head, spring on his shoulders, and autumn 
in his bosom, while summer lies sleeping at his feet.' I have myself," says our author, " ex- 
perienced this figurative observation during the eight months I resided at the monastery of 
Mar-Hanna, seven leagues from Beirout. At the end of February I left at Tripoli a variety 
of vegetables which were in perfection, and many flowers in full bloom. On my arrival at 
Antoura, I found the plants only beginning to shoot, and, at Mar-Hanna, everything was 
covered with snow. It had not entirely left the Sannin till the end of April, and already, in 
the valley it overlooks, roses had begun to bud. The early figs were past at Beirout, when 
they were first gathered with us, and the silk-worms were in the cod before our mulberry- 
trees were half stripped. 

" With these numerous advantages of climate and of soil, it is not astonishing that Syria 
should always have been esteemed a most delicious country, and that the Greeks and Romans 
ranked it among the most beautiful of their provinces, and even thought it not inferior to 
Egypt. In modern times, also, a pacha, who was acquainted with both these provinces, being 
asked to which he gave the preference, replied, ' Egypt, without doubt, is a most beautiful 
farm, but Syria is a charming country-house.' 

" The qualities of the air and waters must not be overlooked. These elements present in 
Syria a very remarkable phenomena. On the mountains, and in all the elevated plain which 
stretches to the eastward, the air is light, pure, and dry ; while on the coast, and especially 
from Scanderoon to Jaffa, it is moist and heavy : thus Syria is divided lengthwise into two 
different districts, separated by the chain of mountains which also cause their diversity ; for 
these preventing, by their height, the free passage of the westerly winds, force the vapours 
which they bring from the sea to collect in the valleys; and as air is light only in proportion 
to its purity, these are unable to rise above the summits of this rampart. The consequence 
is, that the air of the desert and the mountains, though sufficiently wholesome for such as are 
in no danger of pulmonary complaints, is hurtful to those who are, and it is necessary to send 
such from Aleppo to Latakia or to Saide. This good property of the air on the coast is, 
however, outweighed by more serious bad ones ; and it may in general be pronounced un- 
healthy, as it causes intermittent and putrid fevers, and such defluxions of the eyes as are 
common in Egypt. The evening dews, and sleeping on the terraces, are found much less 
hurtful in the mountains and interior parts of the country, as the distance from the sea is 

"The waters of this country have also a remarkable difference. In the mountains, that of 
the springs is light, and of a very good quality; but in the plain, both to the east and west, 
if it has no natural or artificial communication with the springs, we find nothing but brackish 
water, which becomes still more so the nearer we approach the desert, where there is not a 
drop of any other. This inconvenience has rendered rain so precious to the inhabitants of the 

a This is the practice of several of the iuhabitints of this district, who pass the winter near Tripoli, while their houses are 
buried under the snow. 

b The highest summit of Lebanon. 


frontiers, that they have in all ages taken care to collect it in wells and caverns carefully 
closed ; hence among all ruins cisterns are the first things we discover. 

" The face of the heavens in Syria, particularly on the coast and in the desert, is, in general, 
more constant and regular than in our climates : rarely is the sun obscured for two successive 
days. In the course of a whole summer we see few clouds and still less rain, which only 
begins about the end of October, and then is neither long nor plentiful. The husbandmen 
wish for it to sow what they call their winter crop, that is, their wheat and barley. In 
December and January the rain becomes more frequent and heavier, and snow often falls in 
the higher country. It sometimes rains also in March and April, and the husbandman avails 
himself of it to sow his summer crop of sesamum, dourra, tobacco, cotton, beans, and water- 
melons. The remainder of the year is nearly uniform, and drought is more frequently com- 
plained of than too much wet. 

" The winds in Syria, as in Egypt, are in some degree periodical and governed by the 
seasons. About the autumnal equinox the north-west wind begins to blow more frequently 
and stronger. It renders the air dry, clear, and sharp ; and it is remarkable that, on the 
sea-coast, it causes the head-ache, like the north-east wind in Egypt ; and this more in the 
northern than in the southern parts, but never in the mountains. - 

" We may further remark that it usually blows three days successively, like the south and 
south-east at the other equinox. It continues to prevail till November, that is, about fifty 
days, and its variations are generally toward the east. These winds are followed by the 
north-west, the west, and south-west, which prevail from November to February. The two 
latter are, to use the words of the Arabs, the fathers of the rains. In March arise the per- 
nicious winds from the southern quarter, with the same circumstances as in Egypt ; but they 
become feebler as we advance toward the north, and are much more supportable in the moun- 
tains than in the flat country. Their duration at each return is usually of twenty-four hours, 
or three days. The easterly winds which follow, continue till June, when a north wind suc- 
ceeds, with which vessels may go and return along all the coast. At the same season, too, 
the wind varies through all the points every day, passing with the sun from the east to the 
west, to return by the north, and recommence the same circuit. At this time, also, a local 
wind, called the land-breeze, prevails along the coast ; during the night it springs up after 
sun-set, lasts till sun-rising, and reaches only two or three leagues out at sea. 

" The causes of all these phenomena are problems well deserving the attention of natural 
philosophers. No country is better adapted to observations of this kind than Syria. It seems 
as if Nature had there prepared whatever is necessary to the study of her operations. We, in 
our foggy climates, in the depth of vast continents, are unable to pursue the great changes 
which happen in the atmosphere ; the confined horizon which bounds our view circumscribes 
also our ideas. The field of our observation is very limited ; and a thousand circumstances 
combine to vary the effects of natural causes. There, on the contrary, an immense scene 
opens before us, and the great agents of Nature are collected in a space which renders it easy to 
watch their various operations. To the west is the vast liquid plain of the Mediterranean; to 
the east the plain of the desert, no less vast, but absolutely dry ; in the midst of these two 
level surfaces rise the mountains, whose summits are so many observatories, from whence the 
sight may discern full thirty leagues. Four observatories might command the whole extent 
of Syria, and from the top of Casius, Lebanon, and Tabor, let nothing escape them within 
that boundless horizon." 

In cloudy weather, especially when the winds are tempestuous, and blow, as they often do 
in these cases, in several directions, waterspouts are more frequent near the Capes of Latikea, 
Greego, and Carmel, than in any other part of the Mediterranean. They are the most frequent 
at the equinoxes. a 

With respect to the land-breezes, as they are called, it should be observed that along the 
coast of Syria they blow from the land during the night, and from the sea during the day. 
At the most, the wind, as from the land, does not advance more than two or three leagues 

a Shaw, ii. 134; Volney, i. 315. 


into the sea. Its strength and extent is proportioned to the height and steepness of the 
declivity which it sweeps. Hence it reaches further at the foot of Lebanon and the northern 
chain of eminences, because the mountains in that quarter are loftier, steeper, and nearer the 
sea ; and there are often violent and sudden squalls at the mouth of the Kasmia, where the 
deep valley of the Bekaah, a collecting the air in its narrow channel, propels it as from a 
funnel. These winds do not extend so far as the coast of Palestine, because the mountains 
are there not so lofty, and between them and the sea there is -a plain of five or six leagues ; 
and about Gaza and the coast of Egypt they are never known, because the country has no 
declivity proper to cause them. In short, they are here, as everywhere, stronger in summer 
and feebler in winter, the heat and refraction by which they are produced being in the latter 
season less considerable. 

The dews of Syria are lighter when the sky is clouded than when it is clear. At all times 
dew is less abundant upon the Lebanon mountains than on the coast and in Lower Egypt. 

There is nothing particular in the clouds and fogs of Palestine to afford ground for a 
general statement, unless that both are less frequent than in more moist and cold climates, 
and, except in Lebanon, are not seen during the warm and dry summer season. 

Thunder occurs in Syria, as well as in the Delta of Egypt. In the Delta and in the 
plain of Palestine b it is extremely rare in summer and more frequent in winter ; while in the 
mountains, on the contrary, it is more common in summer, and is very seldom heard in 
winter. In both these countries it oftenest occurs in the rainy season, or about the time of 
the equinoxes, especially the autumnal one. It is further remarkable that the thunder never 
comes on from the land side, but always from the sea. 

The storms which fall on the Delta and Syria constantly come from the Mediterranean. 
These storms in general happen either in the evening or morning, and rarely in the middle of 
the day. They are accompanied with violent showers, and sometimes with hail, which in an 
hour's time render the country full of little lakes. 

In proceeding now to our History of the Months, it must be regarded as an inconve- 
nience that it cannot commence with the initiatory month of a season — as it would according 
to both the Hebrew reckonings, — but with that which is in Syria, as in our own climate, the 
second month of winter, namely — 


Weather. — Russell, in his ' Natural History of Aleppo,' c states that the rigour of the 
winter is supposed by the natives to commence about the 20th of December, and lasts forty 
days, naming it for that reason Murbania. It therefore includes the whole of January, and 
indeed, ends with that month : Russell adds that their computation of this term is pretty near 
the truth, for although frost as well as snow has been observed both earlier and later than the 
limits of the Murbania, yet in most years the true wintry weather falls within them. The 
air at such times is often so sharp and piercing that the cold appears excessive even to 
strangers arrived from much colder climates. The winters of different years vary considerably, 
both in the degree of cold and in the quantity of rain and snow which falls in the months of 
December, January, and February. It is seldom that there is not some frosty weather in 
winter ; but many years pass entirely without snow. The snow does not remain long in the 
streets of Aleppo. In only three winters out of thirteen was it observed to lie more than one 
day : and in only three out of thirteen was there ice of sufficient strength to bear the weight 

a See before, p. cvii. 

b That is, the plain along the coast. Volney says that the climate of the southern part of this plain, about Gaza, is very similar 
to that of the Delta. 

c See the Introductory Chapter, "Authorities," p. xxi. By a series of minute comparisons unnecessary to detail, we have 
satisfied ourselves that statements in Russell's excellent work, respecting the climate and seasons of the Aleppo district, apply very 
closely to the greater part of Palestine ; that is, to all except the extensive plain of the coast, the plains and valleys bordering 
the low level of the Jordan and its lakes ; and of course the territory in the extreme south of Palestine, and between that and 
Egypt. It thus follows that the accounts of Dr. Russell may he taken (with some limitations, to which we shall attend) as those 
of a traveller speaking of the higher levels of Palestine. It is a great satisfaction to be thus enabled to employ such valuable 
information. The authority of Dr. Russell was not overlooked by Buhle or Walch ; but they lacked the important additional 
matter which Dr. Patrick Russell subsequently incorporated in a new edition of his brother's work. 

vol. i. 2 e 


of a man ; and then only in shady situations, where the pool was not much exposed to the 
sun. When it is clear and calm, the sun has so much power, that the weather is always 
warm, sometimes rather hot in the open air. Violent storms of wind are rare at Aleppo. 
It sometimes hlows hard, but only in sudden gusts of short duration; the winter and spring 
winds blow chiefly from between the N.W. and S.E., being proportionally colder as they verge 
towards the east. The winds in winter are in general moderate, seldom rising to a brisk gale. a 

The general character which Dr. Russell gives of the weather at Aleppo in the month of 
January is, that it is commonly either frosty or rainy. The snow that falls there falls chiefly 
in this month, but is seldom in any considerable quantity, and does not remain long unmelted 
in the streets. The middle of the month is the most usual time of snow ; after which the 
weather often continues frosty to the end. Rain generally descends in the night, and the 
winds blow moderately, mostly from the northern or eastern quarter. The highest temperature 
marked by the thermometer is fifty-seven degrees, the least thirty-four degrees. At three in 
the afternoon the mercury is usually found three or four degrees higher than at eight or nine 
in the morning. As we shall continue to cite the registrations of this thermometer, it is proper 
to observe that it was kept in a situation some degrees warmer in winter and cooler in summer 
than the external air. 

How well this applies to Palestine will be seen from the following particulars, which 
more expressly refer to that region : — 

The mountains of Lebanon are covered all the winter with snow, which, when the winds 
are easterly affects the whole coast from Tripoli to Sidon, with a more piercing cold than is 
known even in this northern climate. But the other maritime and inland places, whether to 
the north or south of these mountains, enjoy a much milder temperature, and a more regular 
change in the seasons. 13 

Le Bruyn, travelling along the maritime coast, in this month, found the whole country 
around Tripoli covered with deep snow . c On the same coast, more to the south, between 
Tyre and Acre, on the 9th, Buckingham found the cold great, and the thermometer at 45° in 
the open air, before sunrise. Brown takes notice of snow at Jaffa on the 24th of this month.' 1 
Major Skinner, who states that he traversed the country in a season unusually severe, speaks 
much of snow and cold. He mentions a village under Mount Carmel, in which many houses 
had been destroyed by the great quantities of snow which had fallen. e He spent a night in 
that village, and on the morning of the 28th found the court-yard full of snow, which had 
fallen during the night. Snow was then resting on the ridge of Mount Carmel. f Penetrating 
to the interior of the country, the same traveller reached Nazareth on the 30th. The heights 
around the town, and many of the houses in it were covered with snow, large heaps of which 
were piled up in the court-yard of the convent. Many of the smaller houses had been de- 
stroyed by it; and, the next day, he found that the deep snow in the streets rendered it im- 
possible to quit the city, and difficult to move about in it. A thaw had, however, commenced. s 
The snow falls thick, and lies long on the mountains and high intervening plains and valleys 
of Jebel Haouran, which may be said to bound eastward the country beyond Jordan. Madox h 
found it so at the end of this month. The same traveller, on the 13th, found Damascus 
covered with snow as well as the mountains and plain around it. 1 From its peculiarly low 
level and enclosed situation, the plain of Jericho, and indeed the whole valley of the Jordan 
enjoys a remarkably mild winter climate. Mariti k adduces and confirms the statement of 
Josephus, 1 who reports that the winter of the plain of Jericho resembled spring, and that the 
inhabitants were clothed in linen garments, at the same time that it snowed in other parts of 
Judea. Correspondingly, Burckhardt m takes notice that snow is almost unknown on the 
borders of the lake of Tiberias. It appears, indeed, generally, that when the sun is not obscured 
the day is often exceedingly warm when the night has been frosty. The Scriptures allude 
to this, u as do various travellers. La Roque was much incommoded by the heat of the sun 
when travelling near Tyre on the 29th of this month. 

a Russell, i. 69—71. b Shaw, ii. 134. c Tom. iii. p. 228. <1 Page 361. e Vol. i. p. 111. 

f Pages 114, 115. 6 Pages 120, 121, 12G. 1> Vol.ii. 165. ■ Vol. ii. 154. k Chap, xxiii. 

1 De Bello, v. 4. m Syria, p. 320. n Gen. xxxi. 40; Jeremiah, xxxvi. 30. ° Voyage, i. 18. 


Buckingham states that in Palestine the heaviest rains are generally in December, and that 
in January the country is verdant throughout. 11 In the time of his travel, however, there had 
been an extraordinary lack of winter rain ; there had been a continued drought from October 
to January, in consequence of which the country suffered greatly. However, much rain 
ordinarily falls in January. On the coast, at Caipha, under Mount Carmel, Major Skinner 
takes notice, on the 17th that there had been incessant rain for fourteen days, so that a small 
river which flows through the town just named had burst its bounds, and swept away most of 
the houses. This shows that such rain was unusual, although all the torrents, lakes, and 
rivers are much swollen, and large tracts of low-lying country are inundated by the rains of 
this and the preceding month. At the same plain, the rain continued to the 18th, when " the 
sea was as wild as possible;" and on the 20th the same traveller was driven by a thunder- 
storm to seek shelter in a cave of Mount Carmel. b The several travellers cited below c furnish 
a series of observations extending over different parts of Palestine, on both sides the Jordan, 
in which notices of violent rains occur dispersedly from one end of the month to the other. 
The rains are heaviest and most frequent during the night and early morning. Buck- 
ingham observes that the S.W. wind generally brought violent rain ; indeed the winds attended 
by rain are generally west, or have a westerly inclination," 1 which it seems was a popular obser- 
vation of the ancient inhabitants, as noticed by Christ : — " When ye see a cloud rise out 
of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower, and so it is." e One of the travellers 
we have cited, Gumpenberg, notices that from the 5th to the 25th of January the weather 
at Jerusalem was alternately cold and hot, rainy and fine, cloudy and windy. And Korte f 
mentions December, January, and February, as the months in Avhich the greatest quantities of 
rain fall in Palestine. 

In this month the sky is often dark and overcast in the early morning, and sometimes 
throughout the day, and for several days together. Skinner, then on the coast, near Carmel, 
notices on the 29th that they had the first clear sky which had been over them for many days.s 
Fogs occur in the morning, which clear up as the day advances. Madox describes Damascus 
and the country around as invested by a dense fog at high-day; but the sky was cloudless, 
and the brilliancy of the sun gave to it a white and woolly appearance. 11 

Trees and Shrubs. — There are two species of amygdalus in Palestine, the common almond- 
tree 1 and the peach-tree , ,k and both are this month in blossom in every part of Palestine, on 
both sides the Jordan. 1 It was, doubtless, from this winter blossoming of the almond-tree, not 
less than from the snowy whiteness of the blossoms, that the hoary head of the aged man is, 
by a beautiful metaphor, said in Scripture to " flourish like the almond-tree." m Celsus 11 
conjectures that the Hebrew name of the plant shatceecl, from the verb shakad, " to be sleep- 
less, to watch ;" hence, " to hasten," bears an allusion to the earliness of its blossoms and fruit. 
There is, indeed, an evident allusion to this etymology in Jer. i. 11, 12.° The almond-tree 
grows extensively in Palestine, and may be regarded as one of its most characteristic produc- 
tions. As such it appears from the most ancient times. Almonds were not forgotten among 
the products of the land (dainties in Egypt) which Jacob sent as a present to the governor of 
that country ;P the rod of Aaron, that miraculously blossomed in a night, was of almond ; c i and 
the bowls of the golden candlestick, in the tabernacle, were " made like unto almonds, with a 
knop and a flower in one branch." r 

a ■ Palestine,' i. 223. b Skinner, i. 65, 72, 99. 

« Gumpenberg, i. 448,449; Buckingham,' Palestine,' i. 112, 141 ; Skinner, i. 115, &c. ; Madox, ii. 166. 

>l Shaw, ii. 127. e Luke, xii. 54. f Supp. p. 148. B Journey, i. 105; see also Buckingham's, ' Palestine,' i 112. 

h Vol. i. 146. i Amygdalus communis. k Amygdalus persicara, the peach-tree. 

1 lSenard saw it in blossom on the 9th of this month, at Sidon, on the 19th at Acre, and on the 23rd at Rama. So did Baum- 
garteu on the 18th atBeiiout; and Gumpenberg saw the peach-tree {A. persicara) in blossom at Jerusalem on the 25th, and in 
Galilee on the 31st. On the 30th Buckingham saw the almond in bloom in the bed of the Jabbok (Zerka) beyond Jordan. 
Benard, 112, 113; Baumgarten, 125; Gumpenberg, 450, 451 ; Buckingham, i. 251. 

m Eccles. xii. 5. n • Hierobotanicon, i. 227. 

° " Jeremiah what seest thou? And I said, a rod of an almond-tree. Then said the Lord to me. Thou hast well seen : for 
I will hasten my word to perform it." Here, by an untranslatable parauomasia, the words almond-tree and hasten are the same. 

P Gen. xliii. 11. 1 Num. xvii. 8. r Exod. xxv. 33. 

2 e 2 



[Chap. VII. 

An almond-tree, covered with its beautiful 
blossoms, varying from a blush colour to a 
snowy white, is one of the most elegant 
objects in nature, and the more so from 
the earliness of their appearance, when few 
other trees have leaves or flowers. In 
England it generally blossoms in March, 
but still exhibits its tendency to bloom 
earlier, as in its native country ; for a 
forward season often brings out the blooms 
in February; but they are generally de- 
stroyed by an ensuing frost, and then the 
tree bears little or no fruit. The peach-tree 
(amyg. persicara) has a larger leaf than the 
common almond, which is, however, of 
higher growth, and generally blossoms a 
few weeks later. Both are of quick growth 
and short duration. The drupe of the 
almond has a leathery covering, not pulpy 
or edible, like that of the peach. Its pro- 
[Aimond. Amygdains communis.] ductive value lies in the well-known and 

much-valued sweet kernel of the stone, or nut. These kernels yield on expression one half their 
weight of oil, the well-known oil of almonds, which is more agreeable than the common ex- 
pressed oils. It is remarkable that this oil is not once named in the Scriptures. Indeed even 
olive-oil is not very often mentioned by name ; and we think that in many of the cases in 
which " oil," simply, is mentioned, without the specification of its quality, it is wrong to sup- 
pose that olive-oil is always intended ; for it is incredible that the oil of almonds could be un- 
known to, or unvalued by, a people 
who sought after and employed vegeta- 
ble oils so largely as the Hebrews. 

Gumpenberg a says that the olive 
tree had put forth its leaves at Jerusa- 
lem on the 12th of this month. 

Russell notices that neither oranges 
nor lemons will stand the winters of 
Aleppo, b nor will it in the higher and 
colder regions of Palestine. But the 
orange-tree as well as the citron thrive 
well along the coast of Palestine, and 
produce very excellent fruit in great 
abundance. Buckingham noticed on 
the 16th of this month that the orange- 

trees at Ramla continued to be laden 
with their golden fruit. Gumpenberg d 
also states that on the 1st of February 
he saw an orange-tree full of fruit and 
blossoms, close to the Lake of Tiberias. 
Oranges and citrons are also produced 
in the interior ; D'Arvieux e and 
Thevenot saw both at Shechem (Nab- 
lous). We find no notice of the con- 

Page 449. 

Palestine/ i. 251. 

d Reisbach, 450. 


b Vol. i. p. 70. 
e D'Arvieux, ii. 79; Thevenot, i. 215. 


dition of the citron-tree in this month. Probably the same as that of the orange. How- 
ever, for convenience, we may in this place mention that it is supposed, with very good 
reason, that the fruit mentioned in our translation of the Bible under the name of " apple," 
was in reality " the citron." The word occurs in six places, in which the fruit is men- 
tioned with circumstances which agree well with the citron, but not with the apple, which 
fruit indeed is pour and bad in Palestine, so that most of those consumed there are imported 
from Damascus. The niBD, tapuach, which is the name in question, occurs as describing 
one of the noblest trees of the wood, the fruit of which was very sweet, or pleasant : a 
this fruit was of the colour of gold, b extremely fragrant, and therefore proper for those 
to smell who were ready to faint : d it is merely named in another place ; e and Joel counts 
it with the vine, the fig-tree, the palm, and pomegranate, as among the worthiest trees of 
Palestine/ Some, indeed, would apply this to the orange ; but that valuable fruit has not, 
like the citron, all the qualities ascribed to the tapuach ; and it has even been doubted whether 
the orange or the lemon were known anciently in that part of the world. The citron certainly 
was ; for Josephus mentions how the Jews, at the feast of tabernacles, pelted king Alexander 
Janneus with citrons, which they had then in their hands ; for (as he says) the law required 
that at that feast every one should have branches of the palm-tree and citron-tree.s This not 
only evinces that the citron-tree, and the usage intimated, existed in and before the time of 
Alexander Janneus ; but that Josephus, as well as the Jewish writers generally, understood 
the citron-tree to be denoted by " the boughs of the goodly tree," in Lev. xxiii. 40 ; and, con- 
sequently, that it existed in the land before the time of Moses. 

It may also be added that the citron is still used for the purposes ascribed to the tapuach ; 
for its refreshing fragrance is so highly esteemed, that the ladies have very commonly a citron 
lying by their side, or held in their hand, that they may smell to it. Some writers suppose, 
however, that the word in question has the same extensive sense as the corresponding Arabic 
word which, while (like the Latin malum) it denotes primarily apples, includes also citrons, 
peaches, apricots, &c ; but the Scriptural name seems to be applied in a more specific manner. 
One of the Scriptural passages referred to, in which " a word fitly spoken " is compared to 
" apples of gold in baskets (not ' pictures ') of silver," is thought to allude to the manner in 
which the fruit was presented at the court 
of Solomon ; but the rabbinical writers 
would rather refer it to the fact that the 
first-fruits were presented in silver baskets 
in the Temple. The citron takes its 
specific name (citrus medico) from having 
been introduced into Europe from Media. Ancient - [Fn»t Baskets.] Modem. 

In England it will not ripen its fruit unless the season be unusually warm, and the trees 
well managed. The fruit is not eaten in a raw state, but is generally preserved, and 
made into sweet-meats. Wherever the citron grows we might expect to find the lemon, 
which is but a variety of it. The lemon-tree is accordingly found in Palestine, although from 
the comparative infrequency of its being mentioned, it would seem to be more rare than either 
the orange or the citron. It was noticed by Pococke: h Egmont and Heyman^aw it in 
Galilee, at Hottein and Safat. Rauwolff k saw it, together with the citron and orange, in a 
valley near Bethlehem. Another of the family, the lime-tree, grows in the country : at a place 
just named, Hottein (called by him Hatti, and by Pococke, Hutin), Clarke 1 and his company 
received hospitable entertainment from a party of Arabs in, and under the shade of, a planta- 
tion of lime and lemon-trees. 

If the winter has been mild, some of the winter Jigs, as they are called, still remain ripen- 
ing on the Jig-trees, although stripped of their leaves; and such as then continue are gathered 
as delicious morsels in the early spring. The figs of this winter crop are longer in shape and 
of a darker colour than those which the fig-tree arfords in summer. m 

a Sol. Song, ii. 3. b Prov. xxv. 11. c Sol. Song, vii. 8. d Ibid. ii. 5. c Ibid. viii. 5. 

t Joel, i. 12. S Antiq. xiii. 13. o. h Vol. ii. p. (!7. i Vol. ii. p. 40—48. 

k Pt. II. chap. xxii. p. 379. 1 Vol. iv. p. 203. '" Shaw, ii. 15. 


Hasselquist a observes that in this southern climate the trees are again in leaf about the 
beginning of January, before those of the preceding year are entirely fallen off ; and that, for 
the quicker production of the leaves, most trees, except sycamores and willows, are furnished 
with small excrescences, lightly joined together, instead of buds, which nature could better 
refuse these trees than those of more northern regions. The former part of this observation 
is confirmed by other travellers. Shaw, b who travelled in Syria and Phoenicia in December 
and January, says that the whole country looked, at that season, verdant and cheerful, and the 
woods particularly, which were chiefly planted with the gall-bearing oak. c So also Bucking- 
ham, 11 at the end of the month (30th), in Gilead, beyond Jordan, took notice of a stately and 
wide-spreading oak, which, like the rest of the oaks he had seen, was not an evergreen one, 
but had its leaves withered, and its boughs almost bare, while the greater part of the other 
trees found there were fresh in verdure. 

The Vine. — Gumpenberg e affirms that on the 12th of this month he saw a vine in leaf in 
the garden of the consul at Jerusalem. This observation seems to require confirmation. 
Grapes cannot be preserved until this or the following month in any part of Palestine. f 

Grain. — Buhle and Walch both complain of the absence of any single fact respecting 
the state of the corn operations this month in Palestine, and both content themselves 
with the testimony of Russell, which, referring to the neighbourhood of Aleppo, is, that " the 
earliest wheat is sown in October; other grains continue to be sown till the end of January, 
and barley even so late as the end of February." ? This they strangely agree in misunder- 
standing to mean that wheat continued to be sown in January, whereas Russell expressly says 
other grains than wheat; and among " other grains" he not only includes dourra, the name 
which the natives give to Indian millet, but all the various pulses which are cultivated in the 
country. On this point the statement of Volney is the most clear and satisfactory. " The seed- 
time of the winter-crop, called Shetawia, takes place, throughout Syria, only at the time of the 
autumnal rains, or towards the end of October. The time of reaping this crop varies accord- 
ing to the difference of situation. In Palestine and the Haouran they reap their wheat and 
barley from the end of April through the whole month of May. But as we advance towards 
the north, or ascend the mountains, the harvest does not begin till June or July. The seed- 
time of the summer crop, or Saifia, begins with the spring rains, that is, in March and April, 
and their harvests in the months of September and October." This simple explanation as to 
the different seasons of sowing and harvest clears up all the difficulties and seeming discre- 
pancies by which Buhle and Walch are quite bewildered. There is, consequently, no wheat 
sown in January. The ploughing and sowing which Buckingham saw in this month (15th) 
in the plain of the coast, near Jaffa, 11 must have been for barley, according to the intimation 
of Russell. Barley is much cultivated, chiefly for the horses, which are rarely fed with other 
corn grain. Oats are not cultivated in Palestine ; but, although rarely, are found in some 
parts of Syria. Rye is not cultivated in Palestine and the immediately adjoining countries; 
but Volney says it is grown in some parts of Syria for the use of horses. 1 

When the usual rains have not been wanting, the lands are, in parcels, verdant with the 
young corn, which now appears above ground. Buckingham visited the country at a time 
when the lands west of the Jordan were parched and barren for want of the winter rains; 
but in Gilead, where the soil had received the gentle showers of the mountains, the young 
blades of corn were just appearing above ground at the end (30th) of the month. k About the 
same time (2*7th) in another year, Madox l notices that at the foot of the Haouran mountains 
the corn was springing up, and the turf of a fine green. 

Besides different varieties of wheat and barley, Russell names sesamum and Indian millet m 

a Reise nacli Palestina, p. 260. Epist. 13 ad Liimaeum. b Vol. ii. p. 146. 

c Oallce Syriacce are noticed by Vegetius, De Re Rustica, ii. 62. d ' Palcstiue,' vol. ii. p. 127- 

c Reise, 449-50. i Koite, 435. 6 Vol. i. p. 74. h < Palestine,' i. 223-4. 

Russell, i. p. 74; Rauwolff, i. 68; Korte, 143; Volney, i. 295. ^ ' Palestine,' ii. 117. 

1 Vol. ii. p. 164. ra Holcus sorghum, called by the natives duurra. 


as being cultivated in the neighbourhood of Aleppo. Palestine has, besides, the common 
millet; 3 maize b thrives in the light soil of Baalbec and in some other parts of the country; 
and there are marshy grounds in which rice c is cultivated with success.* 1 

Esculent Vegetables. 6 — Russell gives a list of the leguminous vegetables cultivated about 
Aleppo, none of which are wanting in Palestine, which also contains a few not included in his 
list. Those named by Russell are : — Lentils/ chiches,s beans,' 1 chichling, 1 small vetch, k small 
green kidney-bean. 1 The species of leguminosce, not contained in this list, which grow in 
Palestine, are the hairy-flowered yellow vetch, m and the several species of Lathyrus ; as 
L. ambicus, L. sativus (blue chichling vetch), L. amphicarpos (earth-pea), L. biflorus, and 
L. clijmenum (various flowered lathyrus). The common bean is in blossom this month. 
Benard saw it in bloom at Lydda, near Jaffa, on the 23rd, and observes that, earlier in the 
month, he had seen it in bloom at Sidon and Acre. The cauliflower n ripens towards the end 
of this month. 

Plants. — The mandrake is this month in flower,P as is also the wormwood,* probably the 
species artemisia j'udaica, of which, under the name of absinthium santonicum judaicum, 
Rauwolff observes that it grows everywhere in Palestine. He describes it as having small 
ash-coloured leaves, and many small stalks, full of small yellowish seeds ; and that it is of 
an unpleasant smell, very bitter, with a saline sharpness. Both the leaves and seeds of this 
plant are used in medicine in the East, and are reported to be tonic, stomachic, and anthel- 
minthic. This is generally conceived to be the Laanah of Scripture, 1 ' translated " wormwood ;" 
and although severer effects seem to be ascribed to the laanah than the A. judaica is capable 
of producing, there is reason to conclude that it may be identified with this or some kindred 

In the month of January the groves and meadows of Palestine are adorned in great pro- 
fusion with the blossoms of different species of anemone, ranunculus, crocus, tulip, narcissus, 
hyacinth, lily, and violet. Monconys, s journeying on the 1st, saw on the coast, between 
Lebanon and the sea, a green meadow, covered with anemones.* Benard u noticed, near Acre, 
on the 18th, and about Jaffa on the 23rd, tulips, white, red, and blue, with an infinite number 
of other beautiful flowers. Gumpenberg v saw the meadows of Galilee covered with the same 
flowers on the 31st. The tulips were probably varieties of the common garden tulip, w which 
is the only species that any botanist travelling in Palestine has named. Tulips figure conspi- 
cuously among the flowers of Palestine. Shaw x adds colchicas to the list, to which the 
common crocus (saffron) may be joined. The same traveller saw an elegant species of the 
blue lily, the same, he says, as the Lilium Persicum jlorens of Morison. Besides the same 
as these, Russell names the narcissus, the hyacinth, and the violet, as being in flower in the 
neighbourhood of Aleppo ; and although we know not that any traveller in the Holy Land 

a Panicum miliaceum. b Zea maiz, popularly, Indian corn. c Oriza sativa. d Volney, i. 295. 

c This heading is to be understood in the usual and popular sense, for many plants noticed under other heads are properly 

f The common lentil (Ervum lens) called by the natives Shaeir. 

S He means the chick pea {Cicer arietanum) called by the natives Hummes. 

h The common garden bean (Vicia Faba) called Foul. 

' Russell gives the scientific synonyme Lathyrus, but omits to state whether Lathyrus cicera (the dwarf chichling vetch) or 
Lathyrus sativus (the common blue chichling vetch). The native uame is Jilban, 

k Vicia (species not named, probably sativa), native name, Kishna. 

1 Phasevlus max, called Maash. m Vicia hybrida. 

n Brassica cauliflura. We know uot what other species of brassica Palestine has, save brassica oleracea, the common sea 
colewort or cabbage. 

° This head is to be understood in a common popular sense. We have already intimated (and it is evident) that the form we 
have chosen as the best on the whole, renders a strictly scientific distribution impossible. I n short, this head is intended to include 
all plants not embraced under those which precede it. It will even contain some which might have been contained in them. Those 
who know the subject will, however, see the reasons for our distributions, and to others it does not signify. 

P Shaw, ii. 146. 

1 Benard, 107. Four species of Artemisia grow in Palestine, namely A. nilotica, A. judaica, A.fruticosa, A. cinerea. 

r Deut. xxix. 8; Pro. v. 4; Jer. ix. 15; xxiii.15; Lam. iii. 15, 19 ; Amosv.7; vi. 12. "Vol. ii. 113. 

t Principally A. coronaria, the narrow-leaved or poppy anemone. u Voyage, 107, 112. 

v Tom. i. p. 450. w T.gesneria. x Vol. ii. p. 146. 


has noticed them in January, they exist there, and are probably then in bloom, as they are 
noticed in the very beginning of February. As the narcissus is in flower during most part of 
the winter near Aleppo, it is, doubtless, the same in Palestine. A beautiful species, called 
modaf by the natives, is cultivated by them (near Aleppo) in the open fields; and towards 
the end of winter, certain Arab women are seen in the streets, carrying baskets of the flowers 
for sale, and chanting, as they walk along, Ya ma hullu zemanoo ! Haiku kareem ! " How 
delightful its season! Its maker is bountiful !" a The common polyanthus narcissus b is that 
which abounds most in Palestine." In the neighbourhood of Aleppo the hyacinths and violets 
" become plentiful in January." In Palestine the hyacinths which have been named by tra- 
vellers are, the garden hyacinth, which is indeed a native of tbe Levant, and from which 
such numerous and beautiful varieties have been obtained by the Dutch cultivators. The Holy 
Land has also the curious purple-grape hyacinth d in its cornfields, and the blue-grape 
hyacinth e in its vineyards and arable lands. 


Weather. — Of the weather in this month at Aleppo, Dr. Russell states that it is more 
variable than in the preceding month. It sometimes snows a little, and there are commonly 
a few frosty days; but it is more usually a wet month, a good deal of rain falling in the first 
fortnight. The sky, in fair weather, especially in the afternoons, is often laden with large 
white clouds, at which times it is moderately warm without doors; at other times it lowers 
and threatens, without raining. The winds are much the same as in the preceding month, 
till towards the end, when it sometimes blows hard westerly. The thermometer marks the 
greatest heat at 55° and the least at 40° ; and the greatest difference in any one day is eight 
degrees. The morning station of the thermometer, in the first fortnight, varies from 42° to 
47° ; the difference in the afternoon is 1, 2, or 3 degrees. In the last fortnight, the mercury, 
except in frost, rises gradually to about 50° ; and the difference in the afternoon is commonly 
4 or 5 degrees. f In another place,? the same writer states, that the spring may be considered 
to commence early in February. The same winds, which are peculiarly cold in winter, though 
at this time they often blow more strongly, are much less bleak; and though the sky be often 
laden with black hovering clouds, accompanied with a good deal of rain, the heavy showers 
are of short duration, and in the variable weather there is a large proportion of sunshine. 

At the beginning of this month, dazzling snow on all sides met the view of Major Skinner 
in departing from Nazareth. He saw the snow firm on the sides of Mount Tabor. h But 
after his return to the coast, he takes no further notice of snow, which had so much engaged 
his attention before he departed for the interior of the country. Snow usually falls this month 
in the southern parts of Palestine ; and Shaw i reports that it is an observation at and near 
Jerusalem that, provided a moderate quantity of snow falls in the beginning of February, 
whereby the fountains are made to overflow a little afterwards, there is the prospect of a plen- 
tiful year; and that the inhabitants on such occasions make similar rejoicings to those of the 
Egyptians on cutting the dikes of the Nile. Southward, in the higher region of the Sinai moun- 
tains, Thevenot k met with snow, and even with ice, which no stick could break, in the beginning 
of February ; and even at Suez, his inability to obtain admittance into the town gave him 
occasion to experience that the night air was severely cold. 

As might be expected, the cold is this month more severe in the high country beyond 
Jordan, on the east, than in the other parts of Palestine. As late as the 22d, Buckingham 
found the snow lying on the high range of hills at Gilead, called Jebel es-Szalt, which became 
thicker the higher he ascended. On the summit the cold was excessive, and the snow, pre- 
senting one unbroken mass, was hardened into solid frost. This is not surprising, if, as he 
thinks, by a comparative estimate, that the height was 5000 feet above the level of the sea. 

a ' Nat. Hist, of Aleppo,' ii. 239. b N. Tazetta. c H. Orientalis. d H. comosus. 

e H. botryaides, a species which formerly received attention in England, but is now almost gone out of culture, 
f ' Nat. Hist, of Aleppo,' ii. 282. 8 Ibid. i. 64, 65. h ' Journey,' i. 29, 30. ■ Vol. ii. p. 137. 

k ' Voyage,' i. 316, 320, 328. 


The same day he reached the town of Szalt. The whole of the town was filled with snow, the 
streets being in some places almost impassable ; and the terraces of the houses, which, from the 
steepness of the hill on which it stood, rose one above another, like steps, presented a number 
of square and snow-like masses, like sheets exposed on the ground to dry. The inhabitants, 
including men, women, and children, were clothed in sheep-skin jackets, with the skin, look- 
ing like red leather, turned outside, and the wool within ; while the florid complexions and 
light-brown hair of the people, gave to the whole an appearance of a scene in the north of 
Europe, rather than one in the southern part of so hot a region as Syria, and bordering too 
upon the parched deserts of Arabia-Petraea. Buckingham was detained at this place till the 
28th, by the inclemency of the weather. On the night of the 25th, the frost was so severe, 
that in the room where he slept the water in vessels for drinking was coated over in the morn- 
ing, although all the external air had been excluded, and the apartment had been heated 
through the night by the breath of eleven persons; and the snow outside the door was 
hardened into a solid mass of ice. The morning was, however, clear and fine, the sun beaming 
out in full splendour, without a cloud. But it was alleged that it could not be ascertained how 
the weather would settle until twenty-four hours of clear sky had passed away. Accordingly, 
on the night of the 26th, heavy snow and intense frost again set in, soon after sunset, and con- 
tinued till sunrise on the 27th ; in the course of the forenoon of which day intelligence arrived 
that great destruction had been committed among the flocks and herds of the surrounding 
country ; and two persons were reported to have died from exposure to the cold at a short 
distance from the town. a 

In the country more to the east, about the mountains which bound the Haouran plain, the 
weather in this month must be severe, judging from the series of daily observations which 
Mr. Madox has given. He was detained no less than nine days (10th — 19th) at El Hait, 
on the lower slope of the Haouran mountains, by snow and bad weather. From an analysis 
of the observations made by him in this quarter, and extending from near the beginning 
towards the end of this month, it appears that there are often heavy falls of snow, chiefly by 
night, but sometimes by day. The snow sometimes lies several feet deep on the ground in 
the morning. Sometimes, on the same night, falls of snow, alternate with showers of sleet 
and rain. Frost frequent, and sometimes very severe. Cold, sometimes intense, at night, 
when the north wind blows. The winds often blow strongly and keenly at night ; generally 
abate as the day grows, and sometimes rise again in the afternoon. The higher mountains 
covered with thick snow. Snow in the plain, around the mountains, also, till about the 19th; 
but not so much. Even on approaching Damascus (20th) this traveller had often to make 
his way through water and ice. At the same time the Lebanon mountains were impassable 
from snow, and the post from Damascus to Beirout had been obliged to return. It is right to 
add, that this winter (1825) appears to have been more than usually severe for snow and cold. b 
Nevertheless, in this month, and especially in the latter half of it, the sun shines out brightly 
by day, and the air is mild and genial, especially in the country west of the Jordan. On the 
14th, Buckingham found the heat oppressive even on the summit of the mountains to the 
west of the Lake of Tiberias, but it was tempered by a light breeze from the north-west. 

According to Korte, as cited under January, the present month is the last of the three in 
which the greatest quantity of rain falls in Palestine. This is confirmed by the accounts of 
Buckingham, Skinner, d Madox, e and others. From their collected statements it appears that 
the greatest quantities of rain fall by night, and in the early morning, although there are often 
heavy showers by day, and sometimes all the day through. Days entirely rainy occurred in 
Gilead, at the beginning of this month, in the year of Buckingham's visit (1815), when the 
whole country west of the Jordan was parched by unusual drought and heat. The plains and 
hollow lands are, to a great extent, inundated by the rains of the last month and the early part 
of this. On this account Skinner was unable to make his way across the plain of Esdraelon 

a ' Arab Tribes,' 18, 20, 32, 43, 48. t> Madox, ii. 169, 1/2, 174, 179, 180, 181, 192. 

<■ ' Palestine,' ii. 150, 240, 309 ; ' Arab Tribes,' 8, &e '> ' Journey,' i. 129, 130, 135, 136, 148, 150, 158, 164. 

e ' Excursions,' ii. 169, 174, &c. 

VOL. I. 2 f 


to Jerusalem, from Nazareth, but was obliged to return to the coast. The same traveller notes 
inundations in the plain of the coast (south of Mount Carmel) which extended as far as the 
eye could reach ; and Madox was greatly incommoded by water in crossing the plains between 
the Haouran mountains and Damascus. 

The sky is often dark and cloudy, especially in the mornings. Buckingham speaks of a 
mist (on the hills beyond Jordan) brought by a strong south wind ; and the same wind 
(blowing on the 10th) is described by him, with surprise, as colder than any he had yet felt 
in Palestine. a 

Thunder is not unfrequent, particularly in the north, and in the latter half of the month. 
In all the instances we have collected, it was accompanied by rain, often by high wind, and 
sometimes by hail. b 

In the preceding month, as well as in this, there has been occasion to mention the destruction 
of houses by snow, and by rain. This may require explanation. Most of the villages, and 
the inferior class of houses in towns are built with bricks dried in the sun ; and the roofs are 
composed of mud laid over branches of trees supported on long straight trunks of aspen. 
This construction may do very well in a dry climate, in which, no doubt, it originated. It is 
common, and answers well, in Egypt and Arabia. But walls and roofs thus constructed 
cannot endure continued wet. They are dissolved and broken down by it. Even in the better 
sort of houses, the walls of which are of brick or stones, and the roofs of a prepared compost, 
these evils are not entirely avoided. It often happens that the walls are of immense thickness; 
but they are only coated internally and externally with brick or stone, the interval being stuffed 
up with loose and soft rubbish, earth, &c, for the most part easily soluble in water ; and when, 
from continued rains or inundations, the water is able to penetrate through the outer coating to 
the internal mass, it gives way under the pressure and disturbance within which is thus pro- 
duced. However, for the most part, sufficient care is taken, in constructing the better class 
of houses, to prevent such calamities from the operation of ordinary local contingencies ; 
although a season unusually wet fails not to occasion extensive ruin among the best habita- 
tions, especially in the commoner towns, where the stones are piled loosely up in their building, 
without much care for preserving the perpendicular. But with respect to the villages, Mr. 
Elliot assures c us in reference to Palestine, and we know it to be true in other parts of 
Western Asia, that it is not uncommon to see half a village destroyed by a rainy season, while 
the loss of a roof is an event of ordinary occurrence. And Major Skinner J says, " The snow 
has the power in this country of demolishing a town in a night," — an exaggeration, certainly, 
in its plain terms, as such destruction can only be extensive in a night from the effects 
of many previous falls of snow, or of much previous rain, whereby the walls and roofs 
have been soaked and saturated, so that they are not able to sustain the weight of snow thrown 
on them. Successive falls of snow, and successive thaws, would be alone ruinous to such 
roofs, as so much wet, independent of the weight imposed. Thus Madox e notices, after many 
days of snow and rain, even in one of the comparatively strong houses of the Haouran : — 
" The plaster of the walls began to come down and the snow to penetrate and drop in every 
direction." After this beginning, the roof would soon fall in. The inhabitants of Palestine 
are not insensible to these dangers, hence every house is provided with a stone roller, which is 
rolled over the roof after heavy rains f — a practice very usual throughout Western Asia, and 
which offers an exhibition not unamusing. With respect to the snow, we are not conscious 
that any traveller has noticed preventive measures : but we cannot suppose that the inhabitants 
neglect the obvious precaution, observed in other parts of Western Asia, of casting off in the 
morning whatever snow may have fallen on the roofs during the night. In northern Persia 
this is the duty of the young people; which they discharge with much glee and merriment. 

Trees. — Since the almond-tree blossoms in January, the statement of Russell, who refers its 

a * Palestine,' ii. 309. b Gumpenberg, i. 452. Burckhaidt: reference lost. 

c Vol. ii. p. 2/8. d Vol. i. p. 216. ' Vol. ii. p. 180. f Elliot, ii. 278. 


blossoming at Aleppo to the middle of February, gives an advance to the season in Palestine 
which must be understood in copying his statement that, " The almond-tree puts forth its 
blossoms about the middle of this month, being soon followed by the apricot, the peach, and 
the plum ; and although other trees remain in their leafless state until the second week of 
March, those which are in blossom, together with the lively vegetation of the plants beneath, 
give a pleasing vernal appearance to the gardens. " a Now, the analogy of the almond-tree 
suggests that all this occurs early in February in Palestine. 

The orange-trees on the plain of the coast are laden with ripe fruit. b And here it may be 
noted that no oranges can be finer than those of the Palestine coast. Volney observes that 
those of Tripoli are equal to those of Malta, c and Skinner, d that those of Jaffa are the finest 
in the world, — two forms of expression which mean the same thing. 

Grain.— According to Russell, barley is sown this month in the Aleppo district. e In the 
country beyond Jordan, the ground having then been softened by recent rains, Buckingham 
saw the peasantry all abroad on the 1st of this month, either at the plough, or scattering the 
seed. " The labours of husbandry being already too much retarded by the late long drought 
to admit of an hour being lost." f If so, these operations would naturally be referred to 
January. He does not say what grain they sowed. What Russell says of that district in 
another matter, is certainly true of Palestine ; — the fields which were partly green before, 
are now, from the springing up of the later grain, covered with an agreeable verdure. *>' 
Accordingly, the rich green of the young corn, especially in the plains, is this month much 
spoken of by the travellers in Palestine. In the southern part of the plain of the coast, about 
Gaza, where the climate approximates to that of Egypt, Furer took notice, on the 9th, that 
the corn stood as high as it does in Germany in May or June. h 

Esculent Vegetables. — Beans are still in flower. The cauliflower still ripens. Russell 
says that cauliflowers come into the Aleppo market about the end of January, and are common 
until the middle of March. 1 

Plants. — The same flowers which open in January, continue in bloom this month. Early 
in the month, in the plain of Sharon, Skinner k saw lilies l and hyacinths in every direction, 
and the verdant grass was strewed with the richest scarlet poppies he ever beheld. 

Russell states that the banks of the streams near Aleppo are this month ornamented with 
geraniums and daisies. Myller m states that in the meadows of the same neighbourhood he saw 
tulips, hyacinths, narcissuses, and anemones in full bloom, amidst grass of the most beautiful 
green. Rauwolff n notices several sorts of hyacinths in flower, and among the first the oriental 
hyacinths, called by the natives sumbel. All this, without doubt, applies equally to Palestine, 
where the same plants grow, and where the season is rather more forward than at Aleppo. 


Weather. — The account which Dr. Russell gives of the weather at Aleppo in the month of 
March is, that a good deal of rain falls in the course of it ; but it is generally in short, hard 
showers, and often accompanied with thunder, at which times the weather is dark and gloomy ; 
but for the most part the sky is clear, and only variegated with light white clouds. It begins 
in this month to be hot in the open air. The winds blow fresher than in January and 
February, and are oftener westerly. The greatest height of the thermometer is 6*7°, and the least 
44° ; the greatest difference in any one day 9°. The morning station of the thermometer in 
the beginning of the month is 49°, about the middle of the month 52°, and towards the end 58° 

a Russell, i. 64. b Skinner, i 185. c Vol. i. p. 297. d Vol. i. p. 184. e Vol. i. p. /4. 

f * Palestine,' ii. 152. S Vol. i. p. 64. h ' Itineravium,' p. 46. ' Vol. i. p. 91. k Vol. i. p. 1/4. 

1 Doubtless the common white lily (lilium candidum), which, besides the comparatively rare Persian lily mentioned under 
last month, is the only one we know of as growing in Palestine. 
m Reise, p. 648. »Th. i. p. 115. 

2 f 2 


or 95°. In dark, wet weather, the difference between the morning and evening stations is very 

Neither snow nor frost occurs in this notice : but our memoranda gives instances of both in 
Palestine. In the early part of the month Madox a found the nights frosty in the north of the 
country, about the head of the Jordan ; and in the east country, beyond the hills of Gilead, 
Buckingham found the whole land covered with thick hoar frost in the mornings, and the cold 
severe; and on the 16th the hills east of the Haouran were still covered with snow. b Even at 
Jerusalem, as late as the 26th, Madox c experienced much rain and snow, even until about 1 o'clock 
p.m. On the 21st Burckhardt d found that the summit of Mount Barouk (one of, but far 
from the highest, of the Lebanon ridges) was covered with snow, and a thick fog rested on it, 
yet the next day he found that the heavy rains of the season had dissolved most of the snows 
on Anti-Lebanon. The same day (21st) it snowed in the great plain between Lebanon and 
Anti-Lebanon ; and as he says that it continued to rain and snow for several days, it must have 
snowed at the latter end of the month, as he reached that city the day after this observation 
was made. 

The notices which we have collected of rainy weather in this month are so numerous, and 
so refer to all parts of the country — from uttermost Lebanon to the desert of Suez — as to show 
that the statement adduced from Russell is strictly applicable to this country ; and we shall 
not, therefore, multiply authorities in order to confirm it. Much rain falls, sometimes in 
torrents, by day and night, but chiefly by night ; and all that has been said before of inundated 
plains and hollows is strictly applicable to this month, as well as that the streams are in many 
cases swollen to deep and rapid rivers, dangerous to pass. The rain is often accompanied by 
hurricanes of wind ; and the sea is in consequence unusually stormy on the coast. The rains 
are oftener than in the preceding months attended by lightning and thunder ; and the sky is 
often much obscured and blackened by thick clouds. e In short, the spring rainy season, called 
in Scripture " the latter rain," falls principally in this month, the want of which is always 
spoken of as a great calamity to the husbandman. And this is still most true. We have 
mentioned, on more than one occasion, that the season in which Mr. Buckingham travelled 
had been one in which the customary rains of winter and early spring had not fallen; and all 
his incidental statements, with reference to the effects, demonstrate that, as the prophet states, 
when, at this season, God " rebuketh the sea and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers, 
— Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth." f Thus, under 
the date March 11, when in the Haouran, he remarks, " At the period of our stay here we 
learnt that the late drought with which the plains had been afflicted had nearly produced a 
famine in particular parts of the country, and this was one in which it was severely felt. 
Corn, for instance, in this plain, which, in seasons of abundance, formed the granary for the 
whole of Syria, and was consequently cheaper than elsewhere, was now selling at three 
piastres, or more than half-a- crown sterling per gallon, which price was almost without pre- 
cedent or example. From the entire absence of rain, all the pasture for cattle had also dried 
up, and the usual supplies of milk and butter were therefore equally deficient. Under this 
pressure of want and distress, innumerable families had migrated into the eastern hills among 
the Druses, and into the mountains near the Jordan, in both of which districts rain and snow 
had occasionally fallen; while in the great plain of the Haouran, which separates these ranges 
of hills, there had been a continued drought for four months past, without the means of 
watering by irrigation, and, consequently, the soil, though naturally fertile, was, by this cala- 
mity, rendered, for the present, at least, quite unproductive." On the other hand, the good 
effect of these rains appeared, the more marked by the contrast, in the eastern hills, where 
they had not been wanting. " From the abundance of water obtainable here and the indus- 
trious habits of the Druses, the greater part of the good soil had been brought into cultivation, 

a Vol. ii p. 198. b < Arab Tribes,' 97, 131, 227- c Vol ii. p. 216. d ■ Syria,' 206, 208. 

e The authorities ou which the preceding statement is founded are : — Burckhardt; Buckingham's ' Arab Tribes,' 122, 141 ; 
Skinner, i. 246,261,263, 264,269, 271, 286,290, 321; Madox, ii. 195, &e. ; Lindsay, ii. 150; Elliot, ii. 217, 278,327, 347, 350; 
Wilde, ii. 108, 109,424, &c. 

f Nalium, i. 4. 


and we had the gratification to see young corn spring up here already a foot in height, and of 
a beautiful fresh green colour, while the whole of the Haouran below was a dull brown ; and 
from the prevalence of the late drought and want of rain, was at the present moment a parched 

Towards the end of this month, the rivers are in general much swollen, not merely by the 
rain, but by the thawing of the snows which have remained upon the mountains. There are 
separate testimonies concerning the swelling of each river. a And Maundrell, b and some other 
travellers, think that the Scriptural " swelling of Jordan " must be referred to this time. 

With all this rain and its concomitants, there is much splendid weather in March ; such, for 
instance, as enchanted Wilde c in the plain of Sharon (on the 15th). — " Around us was an 
atmosphere, such as can only be perceived and breathed in the East, — no palpable sky, — no 
clouds traversing a canopy definite in extent, but an ethereal expanse about us and above us, 
terminating only where the powers of vision fail, and creating the thought that we looked into 
the regions of boundless space." 

There are various passages of Scripture, besides those already adduced, which obviously 
refer to the meteorology of the present and preceding months, that is, of winter and early 
spring. In the following, much of the force lies in the connection of the separate details : — 
" The Lord causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth ; he maketh lightning 
for the rain ; he bringeth the winds out of his treasures. " d — " He giveth snow like wool ; he 
scattereth the hoar frost like ashes. He casteth forth his ice like morsels. Who can stand 
before his cold ? He sendeth out his word and melteth them ; he maketh the wind to blow., 
and the waters flow." 

Considerable heat is experienced this month in the more southern parts of Palestine, and in 
the plains along the Jordan, and (although in a less degree) along the plain of the sea. Tra- 
vellers who have visited the Jordan at Easter (with the pilgrims) when that season fell in the 
month of March, speak much of the heat of the plain of Jericho. Egmont and Heyman f 
relate that several persons, being obliged to live in the open air, perished, on such an occasion, 
in this plain. And Prince Radzivil § mentions that those who go from Jericho to Jerusalem 
perceive the air to be much colder. 

The hot winds begin to be felt very sensibly this month in Palestine and the desert to the 
south. In the desert of Suez, Lord Lindsay h experienced the sirocco (he erroneously calls it 
the kamseen) as early as the 6th. It was a southerly wind, bringing clouds of sand, and pelt- 
ing the travellers with small pebbles, with the effect of a heavy hail-storm. At the end of the 
month (31st), Dr. Richardson, 1 in the westerly part of the same desert, that is, near the coast, 
travelled all day under a burning sirocco. He says, " We were afraid that the dreaded kam- 
seen winds had set in ; but our guide assured us, with the certainty of fate, that they would 
not commence for a fortnight." The suffering from heat and thirst was very great. Still 
earlier (25th) the sirocco was experienced in Palestine itself, upon the highest elevation of the 
hill country between Jerusalem and Ramla, by Dr. Wilde. k The statement of this traveller 
respecting this wind as felt in Palestine, is so much more clear than any other, that we feel 
constrained to introduce it, notwithstanding the general notice which has been taken of the 
subject in a previous page : — 1 

" While upon the highest elevation of the hill country, we had perceived ascertain sultriness 
of the air. The wind was then blowing from the S.E., and on looking behind us, we could 
discover a peculiar haziness of the atmosphere, which momentarily approached towards us, 
while in front all was yet bright and distinct. Presenlly the sultriness increased, although 
the sun was not particularly hot, and there was rather more breeze than usual. In fact, this 
wind, which was no other than the sirocco, appeared to move as a stratum of the atmosphere, 
and for some time, even after it reached us, it did not descend and fill the valleys. The wind 
had been hlowing from the S.E. for the two days previous, and it had, in all probability, been 
for some time traversing the hot and arid Idumean desert, where it met no particle of vege- 

a Among others, Tschudis von Glarus, 236 ; Shaw, 238 ; Pococke, ii. 154 ; Egmont and Heyman, i. 385. 

1> Journey, 136. c Vol. ii. p. 174 d Psalm cxxxv. 7- e Psalm exlvii. 16—18. 

f Vol .i. p. 333. S Peregrination, 94. h Vol. i. p. 250. i Vol. ii. p. 181. 

k Vol. ii. p. 427—8. 1 See p. cxliv., printed before Wilde's book appeared. 



[Chap. VII. 

table life to modify its force ; and where the sand, in all likelihood, had never cooled during 
the night. This wind also takes up, and holds suspended in it, the minutest particles of sand, 
which, in the space of a couple of hours we could perceive upon our clothes. 

" We now began to feel its force, and its effect was most unpleasant, though difficult to 
describe. The air itself becomes a hot, thick, palpable haze, of a bluish-grey colour, rendering 
the outlines of objects indistinct, though it allows you to see much farther than in an ordinary 
humid mist. I know no better resemblance of the character the air assumes, under the cir- 
cumstances, than that peculiar appearance and quivering motion which the heat and smoke of a 
fire has, when lighted in the open air of a clear hot sunny day. Although it may be blowing 
hard at the time, yet the breeze is unrefreshing, and comes hot and sultry on the brow, pro- 
ducing at first a feeling of oppression and constriction of the chest. This increases in time to 
a sickening sense of suffocation. There is a general dryness of the skin, the pores cease to 
throw out their secretions, the mouth becomes dry and parched, attended with urgent thirst ; the 
vessels of the eyes red and tinged ; head-ache and lassitude ensue. Finally, great prostration 
of strength is felt, which remains long after the exciting cause has ceased, and the other 
symptoms have been removed; and above all, there is the most debilitating effect produced 
upon the mind by this sirocco — a feeling of good-for-nothingness. 

" This wind is one of the most trying things that awaits the invalid in his journeys through 
the Levant ; and indeed it is trying to all, even the most healthy. The residents in those 
places subject to it shut themselves up in their houses during its continuance, and close all 
their doors and windows. Its action is generally modified towards evening, though it may 
continue for two or three days together. For this reason people who live in eastern countries 
seldom travel, if they can avoid it, during the heat of the day, The depressing effect of the 
sirocco may be that alluded to by the Psalmist as ' the arrow that flieth by day.' " 

The traveller to whom we are indebted for the above was in Palestine from about the 
middle to the end of the month, and he has a few valuable remarks on its temperature and 
climate. He says that about two o'clock was about the hour at which the mercury stood 
highest, and frequently it was higher at 10 a.m. than at noon. He adds : — " Owing to the 
great difference of elevation in various parts of Palestine, the greatest dissimilarity prevails 
with regard to its temperature and climate. We were so fortunate as to visit it at the most 
favourable and healthy period of the year — the snows and cold of winter had just disappeared, 
and the rainy season had not yet commenced: — a month or three weeks earlier, we should have 
been travelling in some places with snow up to our horses' knees, while at the same time we 
should have been enduring a scorching sun overhead. The rainy season a in this country is 
very variable, both as to the quantity of rain which falls, and the period at which it occurs ; 
it is however, on the average, generally from the middle of March to the middle of April." 

Trees and Shrubs. — After the second week in March every tree is in full leaf. b 
Travellers who have visited Palestine in this month take much notice of the prickly pear. 

This plant, cherished in our English 
hot-houses in small pots, in Syria 
grows to the size of a large shrub, the 
stem of which is as thick as a man's 
body. A few of these planted together 
constitute an impervious hedge, uni- 
versally adopted in the plain of the 
coast, in which and in Galilee it 
chiefly grows. The leaf is studded 
with thorns, and is of an oval shape, 
about ten inches long, six wide, and 
three-fourths of an inch thick ; the 
stem and branches are formed by the 
r ,, , „. , ,. . amalgamation of a certain number of 

[(..actus bicus Inuicus.j ~ 

Meaning the season of spring rains— that is " th<> latter rains." h Russell, i. 64. 


these succulent leaves, that grow together the year after their first appearance, when each 
is laden with fifteen or twenty gaudy yellow blossoms, which are rapidly matured into a sweet 
and refreshing fruit of the size and shape of a hen's egg, becomes ripe towards the end of 
July, and is then sold in all the markets of the country. 51 

The apricot and almond-tree?, being in full bloom, crowned with their elegant wreaths of 
pink and white, give a peculiar beauty to the gardens of Damascus about the end of this 
month. b Sooner in the plains of Palestine. 

The apple and pear-trees are also in blossom. So is the black-thorn, which has been little 
noticed by travellers in Palestine; but on the 15th Wilde c met with it, for the first time, in 
his travels, in the hill country about Beth-horon, and it was then in blossom. 

The Jericho plum-tree, commonly called Zacchoum, because it grew formerly in the plain of 
Jericho, not far from the supposed house of Zaccheus, and supposed by the eastern Christians 
to be the tree which Zaccheus climbed to see the Saviour pass, — is said " to afford its fruit " 
towards the end of March or beginning of April. Nau d and Maundrell, e saw some on the 
trees about this time. A full and clear account of this tree and its fruit has been given by 
Mariti, of which the following is the substance : — The zacchoum has much resemblance to the 
plum-tree ; its leaves are covered with thorns four or five inches long, the bark is knotty and 
shrivelled, green when it covers the tree, but turns yellow when dry. The wood is of the 
colour of box ; and although not of so firm a texture, it will take the same polish and lustre. 
The leaves resemble those of the olive, but are straighter, more pointed, of a finer green, and 
almost prickly. The flower is white and fragrant. The fruit is a sort of large acorn without 
a calyx, inclosed in a kind of pellicle : this has little pulp, and is reduced almost to nothing 
when separated from the tree ; but it contains a nut, the kernel of which contains an abund- 
ance of oily matter. This oil is obtained by pounding the whole fruit in a mortar, after 
which the murk is taken out and pressed (by the hands) until to all appearance quite dry ; 
but on being boiled it affords a further quantity of oil, which is, however, much inferior to 
that obtained from the first operation. 

The oil of zacchoum has the taste and colour of that from sweet-almonds ; but it is difficult to 
clarify, as the manner of extracting it does not sufficiently separate the dregs. This oil is 
held in the highest esteem by the Arabs, who far prefer it to any other remedy, for internal 
contusions, as well as for sores and wounds ; and Mariti seems to consider that its virtues 
are well attested. Quaresmius says that, within his own experience, the oil quickly allays the 
severest cholic. The Arab women often anoint themselves completely with it, under the 
impression that it had a salutary effect by closing the pores, and thus checking the excessive 
perspiration which the heat of the climate (in the plain of Jericho) occasions, and which they 
find to be very exhausting. Formerly, if not now, when the Christian caravan advanced 
towards Jericho, it used to be met by crowds of Arab women, offering the salutary oil for sale 
to the pilgrims, in small leather bottles. The demand for it being much greater than the 
supply, it used to be much adulterated by the mixture of olive oil. Hardy and others are 
certainly wrong in confounding this with the famous balsam of Jericho, since that was a 
medicinal gum obtained by incisions, whereas this is an expressed oil. Hardy says that a 
friend to whom he gave some of this oil (which he brought home with him) made experi- 
ment of its virtues, and found them " little less than miraculous. " f 

Orange and lemon-trees are still covered with blossoms and fruit .8 

The dwarf oaks, low woods of which cover the valleys and ravines in the hill country of 
Judea, put forth their young leaves, and long green cat-skins h about the middle of March. 

The " tall waving cypresses" of the coast this month engage the attention of travellers, 
perhaps from the brighter green of its leaves at this season. The species in Palestine is the 
common one (cupressus sempervirens). The Turks have retained the ideas and usages which 

a Elliot, ii. 223. Clarke, iv. 133. b Elliot, ii. 286. c Vol. ii. p. 182. d Page 351. 

e Page 144. 

f See Mariti, torn. ii. chap. 23; see also D'Arvieux, ii. 188 ; Pococke, ii. 49 ; Hasselquist, 287; Egmont and Heyman, i. 331 ; 
Hardy, 195. 

? Wilde, ii. 171. >> Wilde, ii. 182., 



[Chap. VII. 

" V {> 

the old Greeks, their predecessors, connected with 
this tree, and accordingly plant it in their ceme- 
teries. The cypress is only once mentioned in the 
Scripture and once in the Apocrypha; but these 
allusions show that it was indigenous in Syria. 
Isaiah b mentions it among the trees whose wood 
was employed in the fabrication of idols, to which 
use it was doubtless recommended by the com- 
pact, heavy, and undecaying character of its wood. 
The other passage describes it as growing " upon 
the mountains of Hermon ;" c which, if understood 
of the great Hermon, may be illustrated by the 
statement of Pococke, who says that the cypress 
is the only tree that grows towards the summit of 
Lebanon ; but being checked by the cold, it does 
not there grow spirally, but like a small oak. 

The Date Palm blossoms and is fructified about 
the end of this month or the beginning of the 
next. The flowers, adhering by very delicate 
membranes to the same pedicle, come out in very 
long bundles from the trunk between the leaves, 
and are covered by a spatha (or sheath) which 
withers. The trees have male flowers on different plants from those which 
Therefore, unless the flowers of the fruit-bearing (female) tree are 

[The Cypress. a J 

opens and 
produce the fruit 

impregnated from those of the male, the fruit is abortive. This fact has long been known 
and acted upon in the East by persons who had not the least notion of the sexual system 
of plants, of which sys