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1Chron. xi. 15. and xiv. 9.) This valley also appears anciently | nifying the judgment of God; or, Jehovah judgeth. They to have been distinguished for its abundant harvests. (Isa. xvii. 5.) Like all the country about Jerusalem, it is now stony, and scantily furnished with patches of light red soil.1 8. The VALLEY OF BOCHIM (or of Weeping) was thus denominated from the universal mourning of the Israelites, on account of the denunciations there made against them, for their disobedience to the divine commands respecting the nations whom they had invaded. (Judg. ii. 5.)
9. Three miles from Bethlehem, on the road to Jaffa, lies the celebrated Terebinthine Vale, or VALLEY OF ELAH, not above half a mile in breadth, and memorable as the field of the victory gained by the youthful David over the uncircumcised champion of the Philistines, who had defied the armies of the living God. (1 Sam. xvii. 2, 3.) "It is a pretty and interesting looking spot; the bottom covered with olive trees. Its present appearance answers exactly to the description given in Scripture: for nothing has ever occurred to alter the appearance of the country. The two hills, on which the armies of the Israelites and Philistines stood, entirely confine it on the right and left. The very brook, whence David chose him five smooth stones (which has been noticed by many a thirsty pilgrim, journeying from Jaffa to Jerusalem), still flows through the vale, which is varied with banks and undulations. The ruins of goodly edifices attest the religious veneration entertained in later periods for the hallowed spot: but even these are now become so insignificant, that they are scarcely discernible; and nothing can be said to interrupt the native dignity of this memorable scene."2
10. The narrow VALLEY OF HINNOM lies at the foot of Mount Zion, just south of Jerusalem: it was well watered, and in ancient times was most verdant and delightfully shaded with trees. This valley is celebrated for the inhuman and barbarous, as well as idolatrous worship, here paid to Moloch; to which deity parents sacrificed their smiling offspring by making them pass through the fire. (2 Kings xxiii. 10. 2 Chron. xxviii. 3.) To drown the lamentable shrieks of the children thus immolated, musical instruments (in Hebrew termed Tuph) were played; whence the spot, where the victims were burnt, was called Tophet. After the captivity, the Jews regarded this spot with abhorrence on account of the abominations which had been practised there: and, following the example of Josiah (2 Kings xxiii. 10.), they threw into it every species of filth, as well as the carcasses of animals, and the dead bodies of malefactors, &c. To prevent the pestilence which such a mass would occasion, if left to putrefy, constant fires were maintained in the valley, in order to consume the whole: hence the place received the appellation of Ivve TU TUDOS. (Matt. v. 26.) By an easy metaphor, the Jews, who could imagine no severer torment than that of fire, transferred this name to the infernal fire, to that part of Ads or the Invisible World, in which they supposed that demons and the souls of wicked men were punished in eternal fire. The place now shown as the Valley of Hinnom "is a deep ravine, closed in on the right by the steep acclivity of Mount Zion, and on the left by a line of cliffs more or less elevated. From some point in these cliffs tradition relates that the apostate betrayer of our Lord sought his desperate end: and the position of the trees, which in various parts overhang the brow of the cliff, accords with the manner of his death."3
11. The VALE OF SHARON (Song of Sol. ii. 1. Isa. lxv. 10.) was, as it is to this day, a spacious and fertile plain of arable land, extending from Cæsarea to Joppa. How valuable this land must have been to Solomon when he made his engagement with Hiram king of Tyre,-and to Herod when he marked his displeasure against them of Tyre and Sidon, may be inferred from 1 Kings v. 7-11. and Acts xii. 20.4 At present, this plain is only partially cultivated: the grinding exactions of the Turk, and the predatory incursions of the Arab, prevent the wretched inhabitants from tilling more than is absolutely necessary for their support.5
12. The VALLEY OF JEHOSHAPHAT mentioned in Joel iii. 2-12., is situated a short distance to the east of Jerusalem; it has also been called the Valley of the Kedron, because the brook Kedron flows through it. Aben Ezra, however, imagines it to be the Valley of Blessing above noticed: and some commentators consider the word to be symbolical, sig
are of opinion, that it may mean some place where Nebu chadnezzar should gain a great battle, which would utterly discomfit the ancient enemies of the Jews, and resemble the victory obtained by Jehoshaphat over the Ammonites, Moa bites, and Edomites. This narrow valley has, from a very early period, served as a burial place for the inhabitants of Jerusalem; as we may infer from the account of the destruction of idolatry in Judah and of the vessels made for Baal, when the bones of the priests were burned to ashes at the brook Kedron, and were cast upon the graves of the children of the people. (1 Kings xiii. 2. 2 Kings xxiii. 6. 2 Chron. xxxiv. 4.) The Hebrew population of Jerusalem still inter their dead in this valley, in which there are numerous tombstones and as a strong inclination still exists among the Jews to have their remains entombed in the country of their ancestors, many of them arrive here with this view, in the course of the year, from the most distant lands. One day in the year the Jews purchase from their oppressors the permission to assemble in this place, which they pass in weeping and mourning over the desolation of Jerusalem, and their lengthened captivity. It was on this side, that the city was carried by assault by the besiegers in the first crusade.
VI. The country of Judæa, being mountainous and rocky, is full of CAVERNS; to which the inhabitants were accustomed to flee for shelter from the incursions of their enemies. (Josh. x. 16. Judg. vi. 2. 1 Sam. xiii. 6. xiv. 11.) Some of these appear to have been on low grounds, and liable to inundations, when the rivers, swollen by torrents or dissolving snows, overflowed their banks, and carried all before them with resistless fury. To the sudden destruction thus produced Isaiah probably alludes. (xxxviii. 17.) Therefore, to enter into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord (Isa. ii. 19.), was to the Jews a very proper image to express terror and consternation. The prophet Hosea has carried the same image further, and added great strength and spirit to it (x. 8.); which image, together with these of Isaiah, is adopted by the sublime author of the Revelation (vi. 15, 16.), who frequently borrows his imagery from the prophet Isaiah.9
Some of these caves were very capacious: that of ADULLAM afforded an asylum to David and four hundred men, including his family, who resorted thither to him. (1 Sam. xxii. 1, 2.) The cave of ENGEDI was so large, that David and six hundred men concealed themselves in its sides; and Saul entered the mouth of the cave without perceiving that any one was there. "At first, it appears neither lofty nor spacious, but a low passage on the left leads into apartments, where a party could easily remain concealed from those without. The face of the hill around it corresponds to the description, he came to the rocks of the wild goats." (1 Sam. xxiv. 2.)10 Bishop Pococke has described a cave, which he thinks may be this of Engedi; concerning which there is a tradition, that thirty thousand people retired into it to avoid a bad air." Josephus12 has taken particular notice of similar caverns, which in his time were the abode of robbers. Maundrell13 has described a large cavern under a high rocky mountain in the vicinity of Sidon, containing two hundred smaller caverns, which are supposed to have been the residence of the original inhabitants. Numerous caves were noticed by Mr. Buckingham1 in the rock to the south of Nazareth; several of which now, as anciently, serve as dwellings to the Nazarenes. Mr. Hartley has described a similar cavern, capable of holding one thousand men by actual enumeration, whither the Greeks fled, and found a secure asylum from their Mohammedan enemies.15 Captain Lyon has described similar residences occupied by a tribe of Troglodytes in northern Africa.16 It was probably in some
Archbp. Newcome, and Dr. A. Clarke, on Joel iii. 2.
intelligent traveller continues:-"Observing many Jews, whom I could easily recognise by their yellow turbans, black eyebrows, and bushy beards, walking about the place, and reposing along the brook Kedron in a pensive mood, the pathetic language of the Psalmist occurred to me, as expressing the subject of their meditation,-By the rivers we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. Upon frequently inquiring the motive that prompted them in attempting to go to Jerusalem, the answer was, To die in the land of our fathers." Ibid.
Mr. Rae Wilson's Travels in the Holy Land, vol. i. p. 220. The same
Three Weeks' Residence in Palestine, p. 39
10 Carne's Letters, p. 307.
11 Pococke's Travels, vol. ii. part i. p. 41.
12 Antiq lib. xiv. c. 15. §5.
13 Travels, pp. 158, 159.
14 Travels in Palestine, p. 113.
Is Journal of a Tour in Greece, 1828. (Mission. Register, May, 1830, p. 231.) "As the natives live under ground, a person unacquainted with the circumstance might cross the mountain without once suspecting that it
VII. Numerous fertile and level tracts are mentioned in the Sacred Volume, under the title of PLAINS. Three of these are particularly worthy of notice; viz.
such cave that Lot and his two daughters dwelt after the de- leon Bonaparte from Egypt into Syria, Jews, Gentiles, struction of Sodom (Gen. xix. 30.); and in similar caverns, Saracens, Christian crusaders, and anti-christian Frenchmen, excavated by primeval shepherds as a shelter from the scorch- Egyptians, Persians, Druses, Turks, and Arabs, warriors ing beams of the sun, Dr. Clarke and his fellow-travellers out of every nation which is under heaven, have pitched their found a grateful protection from the intense heat of the solar tents in the Plain of Esdraelon, and have beheld the various rays; as Captains Irby and Mangles subsequently did, from banners of their nation wet with the dews of Tabor and of a violent storm.2 These caves were sometimes the haunts Hermon." This plain is enclosed on all sides by mountains or strongholds of robbers (as the excavations in the rocks the hills of Nazareth to the north,-those of Samaria to the near Bethlehem are to this day), and to them our Lord south,-to the east, the mountains of Tabor and Hermon, probably alludes in Matt. xxi. 13., where he reproaches the and Carmel to the south-west. The Rev. Mr. Jowett, in Jews with having profaned the temple of God, and made it November, 1823, counted in his road across this plain only a den of thieves. five very small villages, consisting of wretched mud hovels, chiefly in ruins, and only a very few persons moving on the road; so that to this scene the words of Deborah might again be truly applied :-The highways were unoccupied; the inhabitants of the villages ceased; they ceased in Israel. (Judg. v. 6, 7.) The soil is stated to be extremely rich; and in every direction are the most picturesque views. The plain of Esdraelon now bears the name of Fool, and has been celebrated in modern times by the victory which Murat gained over the Mamelukes and Arabs, in their attempt to relieve Acri or Acre, in April, 1799. Mr. Jowett computes this plain to be at least fifteen miles square, making allowances for some apparent irregularities. Though it bears the title of "Plain," yet it abounds with hills, which in the view of it from the adjacent mountains shrink into nothing.8 3. The REGION ROUND ABOUT JORDAN (Matt. iii. 5.) comprised the level country on both sides of that river, from the lake of Gennesareth to the Dead Sea. Of this district the Plain of Jericho, celebrated for its fertility and the intense heat that prevails there during the hot season, forms a part; as also do the Valley of Salt near the Salt or Dead Sea (where David defeated the Syrians (1 Chron. xviii. 3—8.) and Amaziah discomfited the Edomites), and the Plains of Moab where the Israelites encamped, and which are also called Shittim in Num. xxv. 1. Josh. ii. 1. and iii. 1., the Plains of Shittim, in Num. xxxiii. 49. (marginal rendering), and the Valley of Shittim, in Joel iii. 18.
1. The PLAIN OF THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA, which reached from the river of Egypt to Mount Carmel. The tract between Gaza and Joppa was simply called the Plain; in this stood the five principal cities of the Philistine satrapies, Ascalon, Gath, Gaza, Ekron or Accaron, and Azotus or Ashdod. The tract from Joppa to Mount Carmel was called Saron or Sharon; which however is a different place from the Sharon that lies between Mount Tabor and the sea of Tiberias, and from another place of the same name, which was celebrated for its pastures, and was situated in the tribe of Gad beyond Jordan.
2. The PLAIN OF JEZREEL, or of ESDRAELON, also called the GREAT PLAIN (the Armageddon of the Apocalypse), extends from Mount Carmel and the Mediterranean to the place where the Jordan issues from the sea of Tiberias, through the middle of the Holy Land. Here, in the most fertile part of the land of Canaan, the tribe of Issachar rejoiced in their tents. (Deut. xxxiii. 18.) In the first ages of Jewish history, as well as during the Roman empire and the crusades, and even in later times, it has been the scene of many a memorable contest. "Here it was that Barak, descending with his ten thousand men from Mount Tabor, discomfited Sisera and all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that were with him, gathered from Hurosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon; when all the host of Sisera fell upon the sword, and there was not a man left; when the kings came and fought, the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo. (Judg. iv. 13. 15, 16. v. 19.) Here also it was that Josiah, king of Judah, fought in disguise against Necho king of Egypt, and fell by the arrows of his antagonist. (2 Kings xxiii. 29.) So great were the lamentations for his death, that the mourning of Josiah became an ordinance in Israel (2 Chron. xxxv. 24, 25.): and the great mourning in Jerusalem, foretold by Zechariah (xii. 11.), is said to be as the lamentations in the plain of Esdraelon, or, according to the prophet's language, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. Josephus often mentions this very remarkable part of the Holy Land, and always under the appellation of the Great Plain: and under the same name it is also mentioned by Eusebius and by Jerome. It has been a chosen place for encampment in every contest carried on in this country, from the days of Nabuchadonosor king of the Assyrians, in the history of whose war with Arphaxad it is mentioned as the Great Plain of Esdrelom, until the disastrous march of the late Napo
was inhabited. All the dwelling places being formed in the same manner,
these rooms are sometimes three or four of a side, in others, a whole side
VIII. Frequent mention is made in the Scriptures of WILDERNESSES or DESERTS, by which we usually understand desolate places, equally devcid of cities and inhabitants. The deserts noticed in the Bible, however, are of a different description; as the Hebrews were accustomed to give the name of desert or wilderness to all places that were not cultivated," but which were chiefly appropriated to the feeding of cattle, and in many of them trees and shrubs grew wild. Hence this term is frequently applied to the commcns (as they would be called in England) which were contiguous to cities or villages, and on which the plough never came. The wildernesses or deserts of Palestine, therefore, are two-fold: some are mountainous and well watered, while others are sterile sandy plains, either destitute of water, or affording a very scanty supply from the few brackish springs that are occasionally to be found in them; yet even these afford a grateful though meagre pasturage to camels, goats, and sheep.
The Deserts of the Hebrews frequently derive their appellations from the places to which they were contiguous. Thus,
1. The DESERT or WILDERNESS OF SHUR lay towards the northeastern point of the Red Sea. In this wilderness, Hagar wandered, when unjustly driven from Abraham's house by the jealousy of Sarah (Gen. xvi. 7.): and the Israelites marched through this wilderness after they had miraculously crossed the Red Sea (Exod. xv. 22.), as they also did subsequently through,
2. The WILDERNESS or DESERT OF PARAN, which lay considerably more to the south. (Num. x. 12.) In this desert (which was situated in Arabia Petræa, near a city of the same name), Ishmael resided: and hence Moses sent out spies to bring intelligence concerning the promised land. (Num. xiii. 3.) The Desert of Paran "is in many parts lofty barriers. Among these, the noble mountain of Paran, intersected by numerous ravines and glens, and broken by with its enormous precipices, is only a long day's journey
Clarke's Travels, vol. iv. pp. 255-258.
Jowett's Christian Researches in Syria, pp. 191, 192. A later traveller estimates the length of the valley of Esdraelon at twenty-four miles, and its breadth from ten to twelve miles. Madden's Travels in Turkey, &c. vol. ii. p. 305.
Light's Travels, p. 201.
Jowett's Researches in Syria, pp. 301, 302.
⚫ 2 Kings xiv. 7. 2 Chron. xxv. 11.
10 Num. xxii. 1. xxvi. 3.
11 The Arabs to this day give the appellation of Desert to any solitude, whether barren or fertile. Clarke's Travels, vol. iv. p. 122.
distant, and always in sight from the neighbourhood: it is, with mountains of all sizes and heights, without roads or capable of ascent only on the farthest side, and that not without difficulty. Around its base are flat plains of sand, well adapted to large encampments: here and there, at long intervals, a clump of palm trees is seen, and in their vicinity water is generally found."
3. The DESERT OF SINAI was that in the vicinity of Mount Sinai in Arabia: here the Israelites were for a long time encamped, and received the chief part of the laws delivered to them by Jehovah through the ministry of Moses.
4. The WILDERNESS OF ZIPH was contiguous to a town or village of the same name, and here David concealed himself for some time. (1 Sam. xxiii. 14, 15.) But the most celebrated of all is,
5. The WILDERNESS or DESERT OF JUDAH. (Psal. Ixiii. title.) The Desert of Judæa in which John the Baptist abode till the day of his showing unto Israel (Luke i. 80.), and where he first taught his countrymen (Matt. iii. 1. Mark i. 4. John x. 39.), was a mountainous, wooded, and thinly inhabited tract of country, but abounding in pastures; it was situated adjacent to the Dead Sea, and the river Jordan. In the time of Joshua it had six cities, with their villages. (Josh. xv. 61, 62.) It is now one of the most dreary and desolate regions of the whole country.
6. The vast DESERT OF ARABIA, reaching from the eastern side of the Red Sea to the confines of the land of Canaan, in which the children of Israel sojourned after their departure from Egypt, is in the Sacred Writings particularly called THE DESERT; very numerous are the allusions made to it, and to the divine protection and support which were extended to them during their migration. Moses, when recapitulating their various deliverances, terms this desert a desert land and waste howling wilderness (Deut. xxxii. 10.)—and that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, scorpions, and drought, where there was no water. (Deut. viii. 15.) The prophet Hosea describes it as a land of great drought (Hos. xiii. 5.); but the most minute description is that in Jer. ii. 6.-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. These characteristics of the desert, particularly the want of water, will account for the repeated murmurings of the Israelites both for food and water (especially the latter) and the extremity of their sufferings is thus concisely, but most emphatically portrayed by the Psalmist. (cvii. 5.)5
Hungry and thirsty, THEIR SOULS FAINTED in them. In this our temperate climate, surrounded as we are with perpetual verdure and with every object that can delight the eye, we can scarcely conceive the horrors encountered by the hapless traveller when crossing the trackless sands, and exposed to all the ardours of a vertical sun. The most recent as well as the most graphic description of a desert (which admirably illustrates the passages above cited) is that given by the enterprising traveller, M. Belzoni, whose researches have contributed so much to the elucidation of the Sacred Writings. Speaking of a desert crossed by him in Upper Egypt, on the western side of the Red Sea, and which is parallel with the great desert traversed by the Israelites on the eastern side of that sea, he says, "It is difficult to form a correct idea of a desert, without having been in one: it is an endless plain of sand and stones, sometimes intermixed
Carne's Recollections of the East, p. 278.
shelter, without any sort of produce for food. The few scattered trees and shrubs of thorns, that only appear when the rainy season leaves some moisture, barely serve to feed wild animals, and a few birds. Every thing is left to nature; the wandering inhabitants do not care to cultivate even these few plants, and when there is no more of them in one place they go to another. When these trees become old and lose their vegetation, the sun, which constantly beams upon them, burns and reduces them to ashes. I have seen many of them entirely burnt. The other smaller plants have no sooner risen out of the earth than they are dried up, and all take the colour of straw, with the exception of the plant harrack; this falls off before it is dry.
"Generally speaking, in a desert, there are few springs of water, some of them at the distance of four, six, and eight days' journey from one another, and not all of sweet water: on the contrary, it is generally salt or bitter; so that if the thirsty traveller drinks of it, it increases his thirst, and he suffers more than before. But, when the calamity happens, that the next well, which is so anxiously sought for, is found dry, the misery of such a situation cannot be well described. The camels, which afford the only means of escape, are so thirsty, that they cannot proceed to another well: and, if the travellers kill them, to extract the little liquid which remains in their stomachs, they themselves cannot advance any farther. The situation must be dreadful, and admits of no resource. Many perish victims of the most horrible thirst. It is then that the value of a cup of water is really felt. He that has a zenzubia of it is the richest of all. In such a case there is no distinction. If the master has none, the servant will not give it to him; for very few are the instances where a man will voluntarily lose his life to save that of another, particularly in a caravan in the desert, where people are strangers to each other. What as tuation for a man, though a rich one, perhaps the owner of all the caravans! He is dying for a cup of water-no one gives it to him-he offers all he possesses -no one hears him-they are all dying-though by walking a few hours farther they might be saved.-If the camels are lying down, and cannot be made to rise-no one has strength to walk-only he that has a glass of that precious liquor lives to walk a mile farther, and, perhaps, dies too. If the voyages on seas are dangerous, so are those in the deserts. At sea, the provisions very often fail; in the desert it is worse: at sea, storms are met with; in the desert there cannot be a greater storm than to find a dry well: at sea, one meets with pirates we escape-we surrender-we die; in the desert they rob the traveller of all his property and water; they let him live perhaps, but what a life! to die the most barbarous and agonizing death. In short, to be thirsty in a desert, without water, exposed to the burning sun without shelter, and NO HOPES of finding either, is the most terrible situation that a man can be placed in, and one of the greatest sufferings that a human being can sustain: the eyes grow inflamed; the tongue and lips swell; a hollow sound is heard in the ears, which brings on deafness, and the brains appear to grow thick and inflamed: all these feelings arise from the want of a little water. In the midst of all this misery the deceitful morasses appear before the traveller at no great distance, something like a lake or river of clear fresh water. If, perchance, a traveller is not undeceived, he hastens his pace to reach it sooner; the more he advances towards it, the more it recedes from him, till at last it vanishes entirely, and the deluded passenger often asks, where is the water he saw at no great distance? He can scarcely believe that he was so deceived; he protests that he saw the waves running before the wind, and the re
Scorpions are numerous in the desert as well as in all the adjacent parts of Palestine: the malignity of their venom is in proportion to their size; and serpents of fiery bites (as the Arabic version renders Deut. viii.flection of the high rocks in the water. 15.) are not unfrequent. Burckhardt's Travels in Syria, &c. pp. 499, 500. This expression has exercised the ingenuity of commentators, whose opinions are recited by Mr. Harmer (Observations, vol. iv. pp. 115, 116.); but the correctness of the prophetic description is confirmed by the exist ence of a similar desert in Persia. It is a tract of land broken into deep ravines, destitute of water, and of dreariness without example. The Persians have given to it the extraordinary but emphatic appellation of Malek-el-Moatderch, or the Valley of the Angel of Death. (Morier's Second Journey, p. 168.) At four hours' distance from the promontory of Carmel, keeping along the coast, Mr. Buckingham entered a dreary pass cut out of the rock, called Waad-el-Ajal, literally, the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Here were the appearances of a gate having once closed it, as places for hinges were still visible; and while the centre was just broad enough to adinit a wheeled carriage or loaded camel, there were on each side raised causeways hewn out of the rock, as if for benches of repose, or for foot passengers. (Buckingham's Travels, p. 122.) It was, in all probability, from some similar pass that the son of Jesse borrowed the figure of which he makes so sublime a use in the twenty-third psalm.
"If unfortunately any one falls sick on the road, there is no alternative; he must endure the fatigue of travelling on a camel, which is troublesome even to healthy people, or he must be left behind on the sand, without any assistance, and remain so till a slow death come to relieve him. What horror! What a brutal proceeding to an unfortunate sick man!
See particularly Num. xx. 2-5. and xxi. 5.
In the Christian Observer for 1810, pp. 1-9. there is a new and elegant version of the hundred and seventh psalm, accompanied with critical and explanatory notes, from the pen of Bishop Jebb.
Terrific as the above description is, it is confirmed in most of its details by Quint. Curtius; who, describing the passage of Alexander the Great and his army across the deserts of Sogdiana, thus graphically delineates its horrors: "Amidst a dearth of water, despair of obtaining any kindled thirst before nature excited it. Throughout four hundred stadia not a drop of moisture springs. As soon as the fire of summer pervades the sands, every thing is dried up, as in a kiln always burning. Steaming from the fervid expanse, which appears like a surface of sea, a cloudy vapour darkens the day......The heat, which commences at dawn, exhausts the animal juices, blisters the skin, and causes internal inflammation. The soldiers sunk under depression of spirits caused by bodily debility." Quint. Curt. lib. vii. c. 5.
No one remains with him, not even his old and faithful servant; no one will stay and die with him; all pity his fate, but no one will be his companion."1
The phenomenon, here described, is produced by a diminution of the density of the lower stratum of the atinosphere, which is caused by the increase of heat, arising from that communicated by the rays of the sun to the sand with which this stratum is in immediate contact. This phenomenon existed in the great desert of Judæa, and is expressly alluded to by the sublime and elegant Isaiah, who, when predicting the blessings of the Messiah's spiritual kingdom, says,
The glowing sand3 shall become a pool, And the thirsty soil bubbling springs. And it is not improbable that Jeremiah refers to the serâb or mirage when, in pouring forth his complaint to God for mercies deferred, he says, Wilt thou be altogether unto me as waters that be not sure? (marginal rendering of Jer. xv. 18.) that is, which have no reality, as the Septuagint translators have rendered it, ύδωρ ψευδές ουκ εχύν πιςιν.
Frightful as the horrors of the deserts are, they are aug mented beyond description, should the traveller be overtaken by one of those sand-storms, which prevail during the dry seasons. Sometimes the high winds raise into the air thick clouds of dust and sand, which, descending like a shower of rain, most grievously annoy all among whom they fall, and penetrate the eyes, nostrils, ears, in short, every part of the human frame that is exposed to it. At other times the sands are drifted into such heaps, so that, if any storm of wind should arise, the track is lost, and whole caravans perish in the inhospitable wilderness. Such are the showers of powder and dust, with which Moses denounced that God would Scourge the disobedient Israelites, in Deut. xxviii. 24.4
ON THE FERTILITY AND PRODUCTIONS OF THE HOLY LAND.
reside, as a good land a land of brooks of water, of fountuins und depths that spring out of valleys and hills. How justly this corresponded with the actual state of the country, the preceding pages have shown:-Moses further added, that it was a lind of wheat and barley, and vines and fig trees, and pomegranates, a lund of oil, olive, and honey, whose stones were iron, and out of whose hills they might dig brass. The enemies of Revelation, forming their notions of its former exuberant fertility from the present state of the Holy Land under the Turkish government, have insinuated that it never could have been the lovely and fertile spot which the Sacred Writings affirm it to have been: but a concise statement of its productions, as we may collect them from the Scriptures, together with the attestations of ancient profane writers, as well as of modern voyagers and travellers, will all concur to establish the unimpeachable veracity of the inspired writers. II. The Holy Land is said to have exceeded even the very celebrated land of Egypt, in the abundance of its PRODUCTIONS. To this wonderful fertility many circumstances are supposed to have contributed; such as the generally excellent temperature of the air, which was never subject to excessive heats (except in the plain of Jericho) or colds; the regularity of its seasons, especially of the former and the latter rain: and the natural richness of the soil, which is a fine mould without stones, and almost without a pebble.
1. A plenty of WHEAT was promised to the Israelites on their obedience (Psal. lxxxi. 16. and exlvii. 14.); and so abundant was the produce of the wheat and barley, that sixty and a hundred fuld rewarded the toil of the cultivator. (Gen. xxvi. 12. and Matt. xiii. 8.) This was sometimes stored in subterraneous granaries, which in 1 Chron. xxvii. 25. are termed storehouses in the fields. Such granaries are still in use among the Moors. The wheat of Minnith and Pannag was particularly celebrated, and so plentiful that it was exported to Tyre. (Ezek. xxvii. 17.) In the treaty concluded between Solomon and Hiram king of Tyre, for the building of the temple, the Hebrew monarch was to supply the latter annually with twenty thousand measures of wheat for food to his household (1 Kings v. 11.), and the same quantity for the hew
number of measures of barley. More than a thousand years after this time, the coasts of Tyre and Sidon were supplied with corn from Palestine. (Acts xii. 20.)
I. Fertility of the Holy Land.-II. Its productions;-1. Vegeers that cut timber (2 Chron. ii. 10.), together with an equal tables;-2. Cattle;-3. Mines.-III. Testimonies of ancient and modern authors to its fertility and populousness.-IV. Calamities with which this country was visited;-1. The Plague;-2. Earthquakes ;-3. Whirlwinds ;-4. The devastations of locusts ;-5. Famine ;-6. The Simoom, or pestilential blast of the desert.5
I. MOSES, addressing the Israelites a short time before his death, characterized the country whither they were going to Belzoni's Narrative of his Operations and Researches in Egypt, &c. (4to. Loudon, 18:20), pp. 341-313. In another part of his volume, Mr. B. nore particularly describes the mirage (for such is the appellation by which this phenomenon is now commonly known), in the following terms: "It generally appears like a still lake, so unmoved by the wind, that every thing above is to be seen most distinctly reflected by it. If the wind agitate any of the plants that rise above the horizon of the mirage, the motion is seen perfectly at a great distance. If the traveller stand elevated much above the mirage, the apparent water seems less united and less deep; for, as the eyes look down upon it, there is not thick ness enough in the vapour on the surface of the ground to conceal the earth from the sight; but, if the traveller be on a level with the hori zon of the mirage, he cannot see through it, so that it appears to himn clear water. By putting my head first to the ground, and then mounting a camel, the height of which from the ground might have been about ten feet at the most, I found a great difference in the appearance of the mirage. On approaching it, it becomes thinner, and appears as if agitated by the wind, like a field of ripe corn. It gradually vanishes, as the traveller approaches, and at last entirely disappears, when he is on the spot." (p. 196.) pr. Clarke has as to him on his journey to Rosetta, in 1801. (Travels, vol. iii. p. 371.) Similar descriptions, but none so full as that of Mr. Belzoni, may be seen in Sir J. Malcolm's Hist. of Persia, vol. ii. p. 512. in Elphinstone's Account of the Kingdom of Canbul (p. 16. 4to. London, 1815); Kinneir's Geographical Memoir of the Persian Empire (p. 223. 4to. London, 1813); Lieut. Pottinger's Travels in Beloochis tan and Sinde (p. 185. 4to. London, 1816); in Dr. Della Cella's Narrative of the Bey of Tripoli's Expedition, in 1817, to the Western Frontier of Egypt, (p. 53. London, 1822. 8vo.); in Mr. Madden's Travels in Turkey, &c. vol. ii. pp. 199, 200. London, 1529; and Mr. Rae Wilson's Travels in the Holy Land, Egypt, &c. vol. i. p. 67. Dr. Henderson has described the Serâb as It appeared on his journey towards Kherson in the Crimea, Biblical Researches, pp. 278, 279. (London, 1826. 8vo.)
Isa. xxxv. 7. Bp. Lowth's translation.
The phenomenon referred to by Isaiah, is termed by the Arabs, as well as by the Hebrews (SeRan); and to this day the Persians and Arabs make use of it, by an elegant metaphor, to express disappointed hope. Fragments supplementary to Calmet's Dictionary, No. 172. In the London Weekly Review, No. 1. (June 9th, 1927), there is an animated and graphic delineation of one of these terrific sand storms in the desert, extracted from the manuscript Journal of the intelligent traveller Mr. Buckingham, who was exposed to its fury for several hours, and, with his companions, was providentially preserved from destruction.
Besides the authorities cited in the course of this section, the following works have been consulted for it; viz. Relandi Palæstina, tom. i. pp. 378-391.; Schulzii Archæologia Hebraica, pp. 9-16.; Pareau, Antiquitas
This country also abounded with HONEY, not only that made by the domesticated or hived bees, but also with honey made by bees in a wild state, and deposited on rocks and in the hollows of trees (1 Sam. xiv. 25. Deut. xxxii. 13. Psal. lxxxi. 16.), which formed a part of the food of John the Baptist in the wilderness. (Matt. iii. 4.) The Mount of Olives and other districts in Judæa and Galilee produced the finest OLIVES; and the red wines of Lebanon were particularly celebrated for their fragrance. (Hos. xiv. 7.) The wines of Helbon furnished a profitable article of export to Damascus (Ezek. xxvii. 18.): and modern travellers attest the size and weight of the clusters of GRAPES still produced in Palestine, which will account for the spies carrying the cluster of grapes cut down in the valley of Eshcol (Num. xiii. 23.) between two upon a staff.
Various herbs, shrubs, and trees imparted beauty and fragrance to this highly-favoured land. Among the herbs and shrubs, the aloe (Psal. xlv. 8. Prov. vii. 17. Sol. Song iv. 14.), the hyssop' (1 Kings iv. 33. Matt. xxvii. 48. Mark xv. 36.), the rose, especially the rose of Sharon (Sol. Song ii, 1.), the lily (Ibid. ii. 16. iv. 5. v. 13. Matt. vi. 28.), the spikeHebraica, pp. 63-66.; Jahn et Ackermann, Archæologia Biblica, $$ 16. 22, 23.; Hasselquist's Travels; Dr. Shaw's Travels, vol. ii. pp. 138-153.; and Volney's Travels in Egypt and Syria, vol. i. pp. 290-297. The testimony of Volney is the more valuable, as he was through life an inveterate enemy of the Bible, and directed his great talents to the fruitless task of destroy ing its credibility. To these are to be added the "Economical Calendar of Palestine," translated from the Latin of John Gottlieb Buhle by the editor of Calinet's Dictionary, and inserted in the Fragments supplementary to that work. See also an elaborate and pleasing Disquisition on the Agricul ture of the Israelites, by the Rev. J. Plumptre, in Nos. I. II. and IV. of the Investigator. Chenier, Recherches Historiques sur les Maures, tom. iii. p. 219. The hyssop is a low shrubby plant, growing in the east, and also in the south of Europe, the stein of which usually rises to about a foot and a half in height. In Palestine, its altitude sometimes exceeds two feet. This plant was much used in the ancient Hebrew ritual for ceremonial sprinklings, &c. (Heh. ix. 16. compared with Exod. xii. 22. and Num. xix. 18.) The sponge filled with vinegar, which was presented to Jesus Christ upon the cross (John xix. 29.), was most probably fastened around a rod of hyssop, two or more feet in length, which was sufficiently long to enable a person to reach the mouth of a man upon the cross. Robinson's Lexicon, voce Υσσωπος.
In this passage Jesus Christ is commonly supposed to have referred to the white lily or to the tulip; but neither of these grows wild in Palestine. It is natural to presume that, according to his usual custom, he called the
nard (Mark xiv. 3. 5. Sol. Song i. 12.) the carob tree (xpTv, | to which David withdrew to avoid the fury of Saul. (1 Sam. Luke xv. 6.), the spina Christi or thorn of Christ, the man- xxii. 5.) To these, perhaps, may be added,— srake (a species of melon), (Gen. xxx. 14. Sol. Song vii. 13.), the myrtle (Isa. xli. 19. and lv. 13. Zech. i. 8.), and the mustard tree (Matt. xiii. 31, 32.), may be distinctly noticed.4
Although modern travellers do not mention the existence of any woods or forests, or, indeed, any considerable number of trees, yet it appears that, anciently, the Holy Land was well covered with wood. We read of several FORESTS and Woods in the Sacred Writings, particularly,—
(5.) The THICKETS on the banks of the Jordan, in Zech. xi. 3. termed the pride of Jordan, which anciently were the coverts of wild beasts, and are to this day composed of oleanders, tamarisks, and other shrubs.
Among the trees, which adorn Palestine, the PALM TREE claims the precedence of notice, on account of its singular utility; it affords a grateful shelter, an agreeable fruit, and a most delicious wine. The finest palm trees grew in the vicinity of Jordan and Engeddi; and they still flourish in the (1.) The FOREST OF CEDARS on Mount Lebanon. See plain of Jericho, which city was anciently termed by way of 1 Kings vii. 2. 2 Kings xix. 23. Hos. xiv. 5, 6. These noble distinction the City of Palm Trees. In 1818, however, its and beautiful trees, which are unrivalled in grandeur and plantation of palm trees were reduced to about one dozen ;7 beauty in the vegetable kingdom, have furnished the inspired and, in 1825, the "City of Palms" could not boast of one of writers with numerous exquisite similitudes. "To break the these beautiful trees around it. The palm trees of Judæa cedars, and shake the enormous mass in which they grow, are celebrated by Strabo, and by Josephus,10 who has partioccur among the figures which David selects to express the cularly noticed the palm trees of Jericho. The palm tree power and majesty of Jehovah (Psal. xxix. 4, 5.), to the full was the common symbol of Palestine, many coins of Vespaunderstanding of which their countless number at one period, sian and other emperors" being extant, in which Judæa is and vast bulk, ought to be kept in view. By the planting of personified by a disconsolate woman sitting under a palm a cedar the prophet (Ezek. xvii. 22. 24.) has described the tree. A vignette of one of these is given in p. 91. supra. kingdom of Christ: the growth and extent of the New Tes- As the momentary prosperity of the wicked is frequently tament church, and the prodigious increase of her converts, compared to the transient verdure of grass; so the durable are also beautifully set forth by the Psalmist under this em- felicity of the righteous is in Psalm xcii. 12. likened to the blem. (Psal. xcii. 12.) Of this particular wood, we find lasting strength and beauty of the palm tree. "But chiefly that Solomon made himself a chariot. (Song iv. 11.)..... is the comparison applicable to that Just One, the King of The prosperity of the righteous is compared to the cedar; and Righteousness and Tree of Life; eminent and upright; ever it is further employed to denounce the judgments of God on verdant and fragrant; under the greatest pressure and weight men of proud and high minds. (Psal. xxix. 4.) The conver- of sufferings, still ascending towards Heaven; affording both sion of the Gentiles also to the worship of the true God is ex-fruit and protection; incorruptible and immortal." 2 pressed in terms highly beautiful (Isa. xxix. 17. xxxii. 15.), as also the prosperity of the kingdom of Christ. (Isa. ii. 2.) Those who encompassed the priests at the altar are also compared to them, as also the glory of wisdom. (Ecclus. xxiv. 15.) It may be further added, that cedar trees, uniting so many qualities well adapted for building, afforded ample materials for the structure of the temple, and were sent by king Hiram to Solomon for that purpose. (1 Kings v. 10-15.)" Every thing about the cedar tree has a strong balsamic odour: this probably is the smell of Lebanon, mentioned in Sol. Song
iv. 11. and Hos. iv. 16.
(2.) The FOREST OF OAKS on the mountains of Bashan (Zech. xi. 2.): we may judge of the high estimation in which these oaks were held, from an incidental expression of the prophet Ezekiel; who, speaking of the power and wealth of acient Tyre, says,-Of the ouks of Bushan they have made thine ours. (Ezek. xxvii, 6.) Groves of oaks, it is well known, were the scenes of idolatry in those remote times, on account of the grateful shelter which they afforded to the deluded worshippers. The prophet Ezekiel expressly alludes to this practice. (Ezek. vi. 13.)
(3.) The FOREST or Woop of Ephraim, which the children of Ephraim began to cut down (Josh. xvii. 15.), was still standing in the time of David: here Absalom was suspended from an oak, and was slain. (2 Sam. xviii. 6. 8. 17.) The wood in the vicinity of Bethel mentioned in 2 Kings ii. 24. appears to have been part of the wood of Ephraim.
1.) The spacious FOREST of Hareth in the tribe of Judah,
attention of his hearers to some object at hand; and as the fields of the
From the passage above referred to, it should seem that the myrtle tree attained a considerable size. In the Morea, an intelligent traveller (Mr. Emerson) states that he travelled for hours through an uncultivated track, while the groves of myrtle formed an almost continuous arbour overhead, "covered here and there with its delicate white flowers, and exhaling at every motion the most delicious perfume, whilst its dark polished leaves combined coolness with beauty." Letters from the Egean, vol. i. p. 113. For copious accounts of these and other vegetables, as well as of the animal and mineral productions mentioned in the Scriptures (many of which it falls not within the limits of this work to notice), the reader is referred to Dr. Harris's Natural History of the Bible.
Rae Wilson's Travels in the Holy Land, &c. vol. ii. p. 105. 3d edition.
Besides the palm trees, Jericho was celebrated for its fragrant balsam, mentioned in the Scriptures under the name of the BALM OF GILEAD. (Jer. viii. 22. xlvi. 11. li. 8.) This balsam, which exudes from the opobalsamum or balsam tree, was mentioned by Strabo;13 and two plantations of it existed during the last war of the Jews with the Romans, for which both parties fought desperately, the Jews, that they might destroy them; the Romans, that they might prevent them from destruction. Since the country has been under the government of the Turks, the balm of Gilead has ceased to be cultivated in Palestine, though it is found in different parts of Arabia and Egypt. At present, it is collected chiefly in Arabia, between Mecca and Medina, and is therefore sometimes called the balm of Mecca. Its odcur is exquisitely fragrant and pungent. It is very costly, and is still in the highest esteem among the Turks and other oriental nations, both as a cosmetic and as a medicine for the cure of external wounds.
OLIVE TREES are now, as anciently, abundant and fruitful; and the culture of them continues to form a particular object of attention. The expression-Oil out of the flinty rock (Deut. xxxii. 13.) plainly denotes, that it was not in rich land only that this most valuable tree should grow; but that even the tops of the rocks would afford sufficient support for olive trees, from which they should extract abundance of oil. Accordingly we are informed that, although the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem is rugged and uncompromising, yet even there the olive and vine might flourish under proper culture.14 Various similitudes are derived from the olive tree by the inspired writers; as well as from the vine, which affords a triple produce in each year.
POMEGRANATE and APPLE TREES were likewise cultivated to a considerable extent (Num. xiii. 23. Deut. viii. 8. Joel. i. 12.), as also was the almond tree, whose fruit is ripe and fit to gather about the middle of April. The citron tree was in great request for its fragrant and refreshing shade, as well as for its delicious fruit. (Sol. Song ii. 3. where it is mistranslated apple tree.)
FIG TREES are very common in Palestine, and flourish in a dry and sandy soil: although in our climate they are little more than shrubs, yet in the East they attain a considerable height, and some of them are capable of affording shelter to a large number of horsemen. The shade of the fig tree is very pleasant; and to sit under it is an emblem of security and peace. (Mic. iv. 4.) Fig trees begin to sprout at the time of the vernal equinox. (Luke xxi. 29, 30. Matt. xxiv. 32.)
On the various products of the palm tree, see Kæmpfer's Amanitates
Lib. xvi. vol. ii. p. 1085. Oxon. 1807. folio.
10 De Bell. Jud. lib. i. c. 6. § 6. lib. iv. c. 8. § 3.
11 Dr. Shaw has enumerated them. Travels, vol. ii. p. 151.
12 Bp. Horne's Commentary on Psal. xcii. 12. (Works, vol. ii. p. 145.)
1 Lib. xvi. vol. ii. p. 1085.
14 Jowett's Researches in Syria, p. 305. Dr. A. Clarke on Deut. xxxii. 13.