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the glorious liberty of his children; no power of motivity in the assured conviction that such repentance may give additional excitement even to his joy, and that so long as it is deferred, they refuse to do the only thing they now have in their power to do, whereby they can augment his blessedness? There is joy among the angels when they behold a repentant sinner, to whom they are bound by no other ties than those which link together in common brotherhood the universal family of God. Oh! how much deeper, stronger, more thrilling the tide of rapture which rushes through a parent's bosom at the spectacle of a repentant son. If any thing beside the grace of the Holy Spirit can subdue the heart into penitence, next to that must be this touching consideration.
THE LAND OF HILLS.
The fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto En-aglaim.
Ezek. xlvii. 10.
This name was given to a considerable tract of rock and wilderness, situated between Jerusalem and that “ bituminous lake where Sodom stood.” The river Kedron, rising in the immediate neighbourhood of the holy city, runs through it on its passage to those mysterious waters, which mark the site of the memorable judgment. The scenery, in some places, is wild and savage in its aspect, but interspersed with beautiful slopes and levels, where those luxuriant vineyards were cultivated, for which the district in ancient times was celebrated. Engedi is a compound word, and literally signifies the “eye” or “ fountain of the goat," from y'y ain, a fountain or eye, and »za gedi, a kid. The scarcity of water in eastern climes, causes every spring to be highly prized, and probably the discovery of a well, at some considerable elevation in the rocky region, first suggested the name, Engedi, the fountain of the goat-situated in a spot hardly accessible to any other animal-a designation which was afterwards given to the surrounding territory. Owing to the height and precipitous character of the mountains, the region was of difficult access, and hence became the favourite haunt of wild animals. When it was told to Saul that David had retired into the wilderness of Engedi, we are informed that he went to seek him “upon the rocks of the wild goats,” or, as the Vulgate paraphrases, on the most precipitous rocks over which the ibexes alone can travel.” Super abruptissimas petras que solis ibicibus perviæ sunt. 1 Sam. xxiv. 2.
There was a city of this name situated at the foot of the mountains, according to Josephus, about three hundred furlongs from Jerusalem, not far from the junction of the river Jordan with the Dead Sea. In earlier times it was called Hazazon-Tamar, the “ city
of palm trees," from the number of these trees around it ;* it was taken previously to the sack of Sodom and Gomorrha by the confederate kings, whom Abraham defeated ;t and when the land was occupied by his descendants, it fell, under another name, to the possession of the tribe of Judah.t Its situation, contiguous to the Asphaltic lake, is referred to by the prophet Ezekiel, in a noble allegory, describing the gradual propagation and healing effects of the gospel. He saw, in vision, waters issuing out of the temple of God, desending into the desert, and flowing into the Dead Sea.
" These waters issue out toward 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 every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live; and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither; for they shall be healed, and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.
“ And it shall come to pass that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto En-aglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many."
The course which the visionary waters are described as pursuing, is precisely that of the brook Kedron; the vitalising influence they are represented as exerting, beautifully depicts the effects produced by the spread of divine truth; whilst in Engedi and its contemporary city becoming “a station for fishers," we have, perhaps, an image of places notorious for impiety, favoured with the presence of those whose employment is to invite to the water of life. The allegory is obviously founded upon a singular natural phenomenon, the unhealthy character of the bituminous sea, whose waters no bark has ever yet ploughed, no plummet sounded, in which no fish can live, and whose melancholy shores seldom reverberate with any other sound than that of the passing wind.
The whole territory of Engedi, that admitted of cultivation, was formerly renowned for its fruitfulness, abounding with vineyards and covered with luxuriant groves of the palm and cypress. Plentiful as these trees were in Judea, the finest palms were produced in
“ Hazazon-Tainar, which is Engedi.” 2 Chron. xx. 2. + “And they returned and came to Ennishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites that dwelt in HazazonTamar." Gen. xiv. 7. I “ And Nibshan, and the city of Salt, and Engedi.” Josh. xv. 62.
Ridiculous as are some of the statements of the older travellers respecting the Dead Sea, no satisfactory evidence has yet been furnished by the discoveries of modern times that it contains any living creatures. The dimensions of the lake are variously stated. Josephus is generally followed, who makes it 72 miles long and 18 broad : this is, however, considered to be a large estimate. A portion of its waters was submitted to the examination of Dr. Marcet, the analysis of which is given in the Philosophical Transactions for 1807. It was perfectly transparent, and deposited no crystals when left standing in close vessels. The specific gravity was found to be 1.211, (that of fresh water being 1000,) a degree of density not to be found in any other natural water which has been
this part of it. On account of its height and erectness, its graceful outline and pendant branches, this tree is frequently introduced by the eastern writers as an image of personal beauty. The bride in the Song of Solomon is compared to a palm-tree as to stature: the “ palmy locks" and "cypress waist” are common expressions with the poets of “ Araby the blest.” “The tresses which adorn his head,” says one, “are dark, yea, very dark and thick, like the copious clusters of the palm.” Of her royal lover, the bride in the Canticles says:
“A cluster of Al-henna is my beloved to me,
(Of Al-henna) from the vineyards of Engedi.”
Al-henna is rendered in our translation “camphire:" it means the flowers of the cypress, not the tree so called, but an aromatic shrub, producing beautiful and fragrant clusters, which the eastern women, and especially the Jewesses of an earlier time, were fond of carrying in their bosoms. Perhaps, therefore, the vineyards of Engedi, were not plantations of the vine, but of this shrub, which being trained like the vine, the nurseries of it were called " vineyards."
In the elegant personification of wisdom, in the apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticns, reference is made to the palm-trees of Engedi:
submitted to analysis. Different experiments showed that 100 grains of the water holds in solution the following salts :
Muriate of lime . . . . . . . . . 3.920
The taste of the water is extremely bitter, saline, and pungent; re-agents demonstrate in it the presence of the marine and sulphuric acids; it contains no alumine; it is not saturated with common salt. 'The lake has never been navigated by boats: Strabo, Pliny, and Diodorus Siculus speak of mats composed of interwoven reeds, on which the Arabs were accustomed to go to collect asphaltum. “ Such," says Chateaubriand, " is the scene famous for the benedictions and curses of heaven. It appears brilliant, but the guilty cities entombed in its bosom seem to have poisoned its waters. Its solitary abysses cannot afford nourishment to any living creature; never did vessel cut its waves; its shores are destitute of birds, of trees, of verdure; and its waters excessively bitter, and so heavy that the most impetuous winds can scarcely ruffle their surface. The moon, rising at two in ihe morning, brought with her a strong breeze, which, without cooling the air, produced a slight undulation on the bosom of the lake. The waves, charged with salt, soon subsided by their own weight, and scarcely broke against the shore. A dismal sound proceeded from this lake of death, like the stifled clamours of the people engulphed in its waters.”-i. 394, 397.
In a recent conversation with J. S. Buckingham, Esq., M.P., who paid particular attention to the phenomena of the Dead Sea, he stated his belief, that the bones and skeletons of fishes occasionally observed in its waters are the remains of those which have been brought down by the Jordan, and which have perished upon exchanging the river for the lake.
“ I took root in an honourable people,
In the portion of the inheritance of Jehovah;
And as plants of roses in Jericho." The peculiar characteristics of this tree-its solitary situation and towering heightmare accurately sketched in the following lines :
“ Lo! higher still the stately palm-trees rise,
Chequering the clouds with their unbending stems,
Sits on her moveless throne.” The palm or date of modern history is the glory of the eastern vegetable kingdom-with the exception of the tent and steed of the Arab, it is almost the only object that breaks the dull outline of the desertlandscape-affording food and shelter to the fainting wanderer, and generally marking the site of some refreshing fountain. The beauty and usefulness of the tree, have caused it to be an object of universal veneration. It typified Judea upon the coins of Vespasian and Titus; it was carried by the Jews in procession on a solemn festival, commemorating the coming of their fathers into the promised land; and it has been employed by Christians in remembrance of the Saviour's entry into Jerusalem amid the hosannahs of his followers. It was selected by the Psalmist as the most appropriate emblem of the majesty and beauty of rectitude, “ he shall grow up and flourish like the palm-tree;" and in imitation of the inspired Singer of Israel, Mahomet has employed it as an image of the virtuous man, " He stands erect before his Lord, in every action he follow's the impulse received from above, and his whole life is devoted to the welfare of his fellow creatures." The magnificent crown of leaves which is thrown out from the summit of its majestic trunk, has a singularly graceful appearance,
“Those groups of lovely date-trees bending,
Languidly their leaf-crowned heads,
Warns them to their silken beds.”
“ Under the common shelter, on dry sand,
The quiet camels ruminate their food;
That with warm fragrance fill the tent;
And while, with dextrous fingers, Thalaba
Forgiven plunderer for Oneiza's sake.” The mountain wilds of Engedi were frequently visited by David, and were the scene of most of his wanderings, when pursued by Saul. Here was the rock of Hachilah-here also was the “wilderness of Maon," where the fugitive hid himself-here was the mountain, on the one side of which Sanl and his men marched, while David and his companions were marching on the other—and here was the spot where the king was informed of the Philistine invasion, which put an end to the pursuit, and which was called, on that account, Sela-hammah-lekoth, the rock of divisions, 1 Sam. xxiii. 28, because, says the Targum, the heart of the king was divided to go hither and thither. After the retreat of Saul, David « dwelt in strong holds at Engedi,” 1 Sam. xxiii. 29, and when the jealons monarch returned in quest of him, we are told that “ he came to the sheep-cotes by the way, where was a cave, and Saul went in to cover his feet, and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave." | Sam. xxiv. 3. The rabbins have a curious conceit to account for Saul's incaution in entering the cavern alone: “God," say they, “ foreseeing that he would come to this cave, caused a spider to weave her web over the mouth of it, which, when Saul perceived, he took for granted that no person had lately been there, and, consequently, he entered it without suspicion.”
Judea, in common with all mountainous countries, abounds with natural caverns; in times of war these were frequently fortified and garrisoned ; and, in times of peace, they were used by the Jewish shepherds to screen their flocks from the raging tempest and the scorching sun-hence the term “ sheep-cotes," applied to them in the passage just quoted. After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his daughters took up their abode in a cave, and probably, from their contiguity, one of those at Engedi; the five kings, defeated by the victorious army of Joshua, took refuge in a cave at Makkedah; and David, when he escaped from Achish, retreated to the cave of Adullam. These were natural cavities in the lime-stone rock, similar to those found in various parts of Derbyshire. In addition to these, the Israelites appear to have made excavations in favourable situations for defence. When “ the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel," they " made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds.” Judges vi. 2. Upon the Philistine invasion, in the days of Saul, the people “hid themselves in caves and in thickets, and in rocks and in high places, and in pits ;" and when Jonathan prepared to attack the invaders, they said, “ Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves.” 1 Sam. xiii. 6; xiv. 11. Retreating to these wild mountain fastnesses, is frequently introduced by the prophets, as an image of terror and consternation. Hence, in Isaiah, “ Go into the rocks and hide thyself in the dust,
From the fear of Jehovah, and from the glory of his majesty,