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Byeways in Palestine
by James Finn
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Transcribed from the 1868 James Nisbet and Co. edition by Les Bowler.

[Picture: Frontispiece]



BYEWAYS IN PALESTINE

BY JAMES FINN, M.R.A.S., AND MEMBER OF THE ASIATIC SOCIETY OF FRANCE, LATE HER MAJESTY'S CONSUL FOR JERUSALEM AND PALESTINE.

"The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land."—NUMB. xiv. 7.

LONDON: JAMES NISBET & CO., 21 BERNERS STREET. MDCCCLXVIII.

To His Excellency Right Hon. Francis Lord Napier, K.T., etc. etc. etc., Governor of the Presidency of Madras, This little Volume is inscribed, in grateful acknowledgment of kindness received in Jerusalem and elsewhere,

BY THE AUTHOR.

London, 1867.



PREFACE.

These papers on "Byeways in Palestine" are compiled from notes of certain journeys made during many years' residence in that country; omitting the journeys made upon beaten roads, and through the principal towns, for the mere reason that they were such.

Just what met the eye and ear was jotted down and is now revised after a lapse of time, without indulging much in meditation or reflection; these are rather suggested by the occurrences, that they may be followed out by the reader. Inasmuch, however, as the incidents relate to out-of-the-way places, and various seasons of the year, they may be found to contain an interest peculiar to themselves, and the account of them may not interfere with any other book on Palestine.

I may state that, not being a professed investigator, I carried with me no scientific instruments, except sometimes a common thermometer: I had no leisure for making excavations, for taking angles with a theodolite, or attending to the delicate care of any kind of barometer, being employed on my proper business.

Riding by night or by day, in the heat of Syrian summer, or through snows and piercing winds of winter on the mountains, I enjoyed the pure climate for its own sake. Moreover, I lived among the people, holding intercourse with peasants in villages, with Bedaween in deserts, and with Turkish governors in towns, or dignified Druses in the Lebanon, and slept in native dwellings of all qualities, as well as in convents of different sects: in the open air at the foot of a tree, or in a village mosque—in a cavern by the highway side, or beneath cliffs near the Dead Sea: although more commonly within my own tent, accompanied by native servants with a small canteen.

Sad cogitations would arise while traversing, hour after hour, the neglected soil, or passing by desolated villages which bear names of immense antiquity, and which stand as memorials of miraculous events which took place for our instruction and for that of all succeeding ages; and then, even while looking forward to a better time to come, the heart would sigh as the expression was uttered, "How long?"

These notices will show that the land is one of remarkable fertility wherever cultivated, even in a slight degree—witness the vast wheat-plains of the south; and is one of extreme beauty—witness the green hill-country of the north; although such qualities are by no means confined to those districts. Thus it is not necessary, it is not just, that believers in the Bible, in order to hold fast their confidence in its predictions for the future, should rush into the extreme of pronouncing the Holy Land to be cursed in its present capabilities. It is verily and indeed cursed in its government and in its want of population; but still the soil is that of "a land which the Lord thy God careth for." There is a deep meaning in the words, "The earth is the Lord's," when applied to that peculiar country; for it is a reserved property, an estate in abeyance, and not even in a subordinate sense can it be the fief of the men whom it eats up. (Numb. xiii. 32, and Ezek. xxxvi. 13, 14.) I have seen enough to convince me that astonishing will be the amount of its produce, and the rapidity also, when the obstacles now existing are removed.

With respect to antiquarian researches, let me express my deep interest in the works now undertaken under the Palestine Exploration Fund. My happiness, while residing in the country, would have been much augmented had such operations been at that time, i.e., between 1846 and 1863, commenced in Jerusalem or elsewhere in the Holy Land.

J. F.



NOTE.

The frontispiece picture to this volume represents the relic of a small Roman Temple, situated on the eastern edge of the Plain of Sharon, near the line of hills, between the two villages Awali and M'zeera'a.

It is quadrangular in form, with a door and portico on its north front.

The portico is supported by two round columns of Corinthian order, and two pilasters of the same at the extremities. The columns are of small dimensions, the shafts not exceeding nine feet in length; yet in these the canon is observed which obtains in the larger proportions found in classic lands, namely, that the diameter is somewhat extended near the half elevation from the ground. The capitals are of the best design.

The doorway is formed by a very bold and deep moulding, and in the upright side-posts is found the same arrangement for holding a stone bar in confining the door, as is to be seen in some sepulchres about Jerusalem, namely, a curved groove increasing in depth of incision as it descends.

The whole edifice bears the same warm tinge of yellow that all those of good quality acquire from age in that pure climate.

The roof has been repaired, and the walls in some parts patched up.

On the southern wall, internally, the Moslems have set up a Kebleh niche for indicating the direction of prayer.

The peasants call this building the "Boorj," or "Tower."

Near adjoining it are remains of ancient foundations: one quite circular and of small diameter.

There is also by the road-side, not far off, a rocky grotto, supplied with water by channels from the hills.

My sketches of this interesting relic date from 1848 and 1859, and, as far as I am aware, no other traveller had seen it until lately, when the members of the Palestine Exploration Expedition visited and took a photograph of it, which is now published.

J. F.



CONTENTS. I. OVER THE JORDAN, AND 1 RETURN BY THE WEST II. NORTHWARDS TO BEISAN, 85 KADIS, ANTIPATRIS, ETC. III. SOUTHWARDS ON THE 144 PHILISTINE PLAIN AND ITS SEA COAST IV. HEBRON TO BEERSHEBA, 184 AND HEBRON TO JAFFA V. THE LAND OF BENJAMIN 199 VI. SEBUSTIEH TO CAIFFA 214 VII. ESDRAELON PLAIN AND 226 ITS VICINITY VIII. BELAD BESHARAH 253 IX. UPPER GALILEE—FOREST 264 SCENERY X. TEMPLE OF BAAL AND 283 SEPULCHRE OF PHOENICIA XI. JERUSALEM TO PETRA, 289 AND RETURN BY THE DEAD SEA XII. ACROSS THE 347 LEBANON—(THREE PARTS,) XIII. NORTH-WEST OF THE 414 DEAD SEA XIV. SOBA 423 XV. THE TWO BAIT SAHHOORS 428 IDENTIFIED XVI. THE BAKOOSH COTTAGE 435 APPENDIX A 453 APPENDIX B 454 INDEX OF PLACES 461



I. OVER THE JORDAN AND RETURN BY THE WEST.

We were a dozen Englishmen, including three clergymen, undertaking the above journey accompanied by the large train of servants, interpreters, and muleteers usually required for travelling in the East. And it was on Wednesday, the 9th day of May 1855, that we started. This was considered almost late in the season for such an enterprise. The weather was hot, chiefly produced by a strong shirocco wind at the time; and, in crossing over the shoulder of the Mount of Olives, we found the country people beginning their harvest at Bethany.

We were of course escorted by a party of Arab guides, partly villagers of either Abu Dis or Selwan, (Siloam,) and partly of those Ghawarineh Arabs not deserving the appellation of Bedaween, who live around and about Jericho. These people, of both classes, form a partnership for convoy of travellers to the Jordan under arrangements made at the consulate. Without them it would be impossible either to find the way to Jericho and the river, or to pass along the deserted road, for there are always out-lookers about the tops of the hills to give notice that you are without an escort, and you would consequently still find that travellers may "fall among thieves" between Jerusalem and Jericho; besides that, on descending to the plain of Jericho you would certainly become the prey of other Arabs of real tribes, ever passing about there—including most probably the 'Adwan, to whose hospitality, however, we were now about to commit ourselves. To all this must be added, that no other Arabs dare undertake to convoy travellers upon that road; the Taamra to the south have long felt their exclusion from it to be a great grievance, as the gains derived from the employment of escorting Europeans are very alluring.

We had with us a deputed commissioner from the 'Adwan, namely, Shaikh Fendi, a brother of Shaikh 'Abdu'l 'Azeez. He was delighted with the refreshment of eating a cucumber, when we rested by the wayside to eat oranges—the delicious produce of Jaffa.

Passing the Fountain of the Apostles, (so called,) we jogged along a plain road till we reached a booth for selling cups of coffee, at the divergence of the road Nebi Moosa, (the reputed sepulchre of the prophet Moses, according to the Mohammedans,) then up an ascent still named Tela'at ed Dum, which is certainly the ancient {3} Adummim, (Joshua xv. 7)—probably so called from broad bands of red among the strata of the rocks. Here there are also curious wavy lines of brown flint, undulating on a large scale among the limestone cliffs. This phenomenon is principally to be seen near the ruined and deserted Khan, or eastern lodging-place, situated at about half the distance of our journey. The name is Khatroon.

As we proceeded, our escort, mostly on foot, went on singing merrily, and occasionally bringing us tufts of scented wild plants found in crevices by the roadside. Then we came to long remains of an ancient water conduit, leading to ruins of a small convent. In a few minutes after the latter, we found ourselves looking down a fearfully deep precipice of rocks on our left hand, with a stream flowing at the bottom, apparently very narrow indeed, and the sound of it scarcely audible. This is the brook Kelt, by some supposed to be the Cherith of Elijah's history. Suddenly we were on the brow of a deep descent, with the Ghor, or Jericho plain, and the Dead Sea spread out below. In going down, we had upon our left hand considerable fragments of ancient masonry, containing lines of Roman reticulated brickwork.

It was now evening; a breeze, but not a cool one, blowing; and we left aside for this time the pretty camping station of Elisha's Fountain, because we had business to transact at the village of Er-Rihha, (or Jericho.) There accordingly our tents were pitched; and in a circle at our doors were attentive listeners to a narration of the events of Lieut. Molyneux's Expedition on the Jordan and Dead Sea in 1847.

Thermometer after sunset, inside the tent, at 89 degrees Fahrenheit. Sleep very much disturbed by small black sandflies and ants.

Thursday, 10th.—Thermometer at 76 degrees before sunrise. The scene around us was animated and diversified; but several of us had been accustomed to Oriental affairs—some for a good many years; and some were even familiar with the particular localities and customs of this district. Others were young in age, and fresh to the country; expressing their wonderment at finding themselves so near to scenes read of from infancy—scarcely believing that they had at length approached near to

"That bituminous lake Where Sodom stood,"

and filled with joyous expectation at the visit so soon to be made to the Jordan, and beyond it. Some were quoting Scripture; some quoting poetry; and others taking particular notice of the wild Arabs, who were by this time increasing in number about us,—their spears, their mares, their guttural language, and not less the barren desert scene before us, being objects of romantic interest.

At length all the tents and luggage were loaded on the mules, and ten men of the village were hired for helping to convey our property across the river; and we went forward over the strange plain which is neither desert sand, as in Africa, nor wilderness of creeping plants and flowers, as on the way to Petra, but a puzzling, though monotonous succession of low eminences,—of a nature something like rotten chalk ground, if there be such a thing in existence,—between which eminences we had to wind our way, until we reached the border of tamarisk-trees, large reeds, willow, aspen, etc., that fringes the river; invisible till one reaches close upon it.

At the bathing (or baptism) place of the Greeks, northwards from that of the Latins, to which English travellers are usually conducted, we had to cross, by swimming as we could. {5} King David, on his return from exile, had a ferry-boat to carry over his household, but we had none. Probably, on his escaping from Absalom, he crossed as we did.

The middle part of the river was still too deep for mere fording. Horses and men had to swim; so the gentlemen sat still on their saddles, with their feet put up on the necks of their horses, which were led by naked swimming Arabs in the water holding the bridles, one on each side.

Baggage was carried over mostly on the animals; but had to be previously adjusted and tightened, so as to be least liable to get wetted. Small parcels were carried over on the heads of the swimmers. These all carried their own clothes in that manner. One of the luggage mules fell with his load in the middle of the stream. It was altogether a lively scene. Our Arabs were much darker over the whole body than I had expected to find them; and the 'Adwan have long plaits of hair hanging on the shoulders when the kefieh, or coloured head-dress, is removed. The horses and beasts of burden were often restive in mid-current, and provoked a good deal of merriment. Some of the neighbouring camps having herds of cattle, sent them to drink and to cool themselves in the river, as the heat of the day increased. Their drivers urged them in, and then enjoyed the fun of keeping them there by swimming round and round them. One cow was very nearly lost, however, being carried away rapidly and helplessly in the direction of the Dead Sea, but she was recovered. The Jericho people returned home, several of them charged with parting letters addressed to friends in Jerusalem; and we were left reposing, literally reposing, on the eastern bank,—the English chatting happily; the Arabs smoking or sleeping under shade of trees; pigeons cooing among the thick covert, and a Jordan nightingale soothing us occasionally, with sometimes a hawk or an eagle darting along the sky; while the world-renowned river rolled before our eyes.

"Labitur et labetur in omne volubilis aevum."

The novelty of the scenes, and the brilliancy of the atmosphere, as well the vivacity of the recent transactions in "passing over Jordan," had their duly buoyant effect upon youthful persons,—who were, however, not forgetful of past events in these places belonging to sacred history.

The baggage went on; but, as the appointed halting-place was only about two hours distant, we remained enjoying ourselves as we were during most of the day.

Among our novel friends is an Arab hero named Gublan, as they pronounce it here, (but it is really the Turkish word Kaplan, meaning Tiger,) and his uncle, old 'Abdu'l 'Azeez. About three years before, Gublan had been attacked by Government soldiers at Jericho. He made a feigned retreat, and, leading them into the thickets of Neb'k trees, suddenly wheeled round and killed six of them. The humbled Government force retired, and the dead were buried, by having a mound of earth piled over them. Of course, such an incident was never reported to the Sublime Invincible Porte at Constantinople; but it was a curious coincidence, that this very morning, amid our circle before the tents, after breakfast and close to that mound, we had Gublan, 'Abdu'l 'Azeez, and the Turkish Aga of the present time, all peaceably smoking pipes together in our company.

Among our gentlemen we had a man of fortune and literary attainments, who had been in Algiers, and now amused himself with dispensing with servants or interpreters—speaking some Arabic. He brought but very light luggage. This he placed upon a donkey, and drove it himself—wearing Algerine town costume. The Bedaween, however, as I need scarcely say, did not mistake him for an Oriental.

Moving forward in the afternoon, we were passing over the Plains of Moab, "on this [east] side Jordan by Jericho"—where Balaam, son of Beor, saw, from the heights above, all Israel encamped, and cried out, "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob! and thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign-aloes which the Lord hath planted, and as cedar-trees beside the waters. . . . Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee," (Num. xxii. I, and xxiv. 5, 6, 9.) This territory is also called the Land of Moab, where the second covenant was made with the people by the ministry of Moses—the one "beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb."

Our ride was a gradual ascent; and after some time we were met by young 'Ali, the favourite son of the principal Shaikh Deab, (Wolf,) with a small but chosen escort, sent on by his father to welcome us. We saw a good deal of corn land, and people reaping their harvest. This belongs to two or three scattered villages about there, under the immediate protection of the Deab 'Adwan. The Arabs, however, in this part of the world, do condescend to countenance and even to profit by agriculture, for they buy slaves to sow and reap for them.

In two hours and a half from the Jordan we came to our halting-place, at a spot called Cuferain, ("two villages")—the Kiriathaim of Jer. xlviii. 23—at the foot of the mountain, with a strong stream of water rushing past us. No sign, however, of habitations: only, at a little distance to the south, were ruins of a village called Er Ram, (a very common name in Palestine; but this is not Ramoth-Gilead;) and at half an hour to the north was an inhabited village called Nimrin, from which the stream flowed to us.—See Jer. xlviii. 34: "The waters of Nimrin shall be desolate."

We had a refreshing breeze from the north which is justly counted a luxury in summer time. The shaikhs came and had coffee with me. They said that on the high summits we shall have cooler temperature than in Jerusalem, which is very probable.

After dinner I sat at my tent-door, by the rivulet side, looking southwards over the Dead Sea, and to the west over the line of the promised land of Canaan, which I had never before had an opportunity of seeing in that manner, although the well-known verse had been often repeated in England—

"Oh could I stand where Moses stood, And view the landscape o'er, Not Death's cold stream nor Jordan's flood Should fright me from the shore."

I then read over to myself in Arabic, the Psalms for the evening service—namely, liii., liv., and lv.

About sunset there was an alarm that a lad who had accompanied us as a servant from Jerusalem was missing ever since we left the Jordan. Horse-men were sent in every direction in search of him. It was afterwards discovered that he had returned to Jericho.

At about a hundred yards south of us was a valley called Se'eer, (its brook, however, comes down from the north)—abounding in fine rosy oleander shrubs.

During the night the water near us seemed alive with croaking frogs. Last night we had the sand-flies to keep us awake.

Friday, 11th.—Thermometer 66 degrees before sunrise. My earliest looks were towards Canaan, "that goodly land"—"the hills, from which cometh my help." How keen must have been the feeling of his state of exile when David was driven to this side the river!

Before breakfast I bathed in the Se'eer, among bushes of oleander and the strong-scented ghar—a purple-spiked flower always found adjoining to or in water-beds. Then read my Arabic Psalms as usual.

Before starting, young 'Ali and his party asked us all for presents, and got none. We gave answer unanimously that we meant to give presents to his father when we should see him. Strange how depraved the Arab mind becomes on this matter of asking for gifts wherever European travellers are found!—so different from the customs of ancient times, and it is not found in districts off the common tracks of resort.

Our road lay up the hills, constantly growing more steep and precipitous, and occasionally winding between large rocks, which were often overgrown with honeysuckle in full luxuriance. The Arabs scrambled like wild animals over the rocks, and brought down very long streamers of honeysuckle, Luwayeh, as they call it, which they wound round and round the necks of our horses, and generally got piastres for doing so. About two-thirds of the distance up the ascent we rested, in order to relieve the animals, or to sketch views, or enjoy the glorious scenery that lay extended below us—comprising the Dead Sea, the line of the river trees, Jericho, the woods of Elisha's Fountain, and the hills towards Jerusalem. The Bedaween have eyes like eagles; and some avouched that they could see the Mount of Olives, and the minaret upon its summit. They indicated to us the positions of Es-Salt and of Heshban.

We had now almost attained a botanical region resembling that of the Jerusalem elevation, instead of the Indian vegetation upon the Jordan plain; only there was ret'm (the juniper of 1 Kings xix. 4) to be found, with pods in seed at that season; but we had also our long accustomed terebinth and arbutus, with honeysuckle and pink ground-convolvulus. The rocks were variegated with streaks of pink, purple, orange, and yellow, as at Khatroon, on the Jerusalem road. Partridges were clucking among the bushes; and the bells on the necks of our mules lulled us with their sweet chime, as the animals strolled browsing around in the gay sunshine.

When we moved forward once more, it was along paths of short zigzags between cliffs, so that our procession was constantly broken into small pieces. At length we lost sight of the Ghor and the Dead Sea; and after some time traversing miles of red and white cistus, red everlasting, and fragrant thyme and sage, with occasional terebinth-trees festooned with honeysuckle, we came upon a district covered with millions, or billions, or probably trillions, of locusts, not fully grown, and only taking short flights; but they greatly annoyed our horses. My choice Arab, being at that time ridden by my servant, fairly bolted away with fright for a considerable distance.

At length we halted at a small spring oozing from the soil of the field. The place was called Hheker Zaboot—a pretty place, and cuckoos on the trees around us; only the locusts were troublesome.

'Abdu'l 'Azeez proposed that instead of going at once to Ammon, we should make a detour by Heshbon and Elealeh, on the way to his encampment. To this we all assented.

During the ride forward the old shaikh kept close to me, narrating incidents of his life,—such as his last year's losses by the Beni Sukh'r, who plundered him of all his flocks and herds, horses, tents, and even most of his clothing,—then described the march of Ibrahim Pasha's army in their disastrous attempt upon Kerak: also some of the valiant achievements of his kinsman Gublan; and then proceeding to witticism, gave me his etymological origin of the name of Hhesban—namely, that, on the subsiding of the great deluge, the first object that Noah perceived was that castle, perched as it is upon a lofty peak; whereupon he exclaimed, Hhus'n ban—"a castle appears!" I wish I could recollect more of his tales.

After passing through romantic scenery of rocks and evergreen trees, at a sudden turn of the road we came to large flocks and herds drinking, or couched beside a copious stream of water gushing from near the foot of a rocky hill. This they called 'Ain Hhesban; and told us that the Egyptian army above alluded to, twenty thousand in number, passed the night there before arriving at Kerak. To many of them it was their last night on earth.

There were remains of large masonry lying about, and the scene was truly beautiful—to which the bells of the goats and cows added a charming musical effect.

I asked an Arab, who was bathing in a pool, where he had come from, and he sulkily answered, "From t'other end of the world!" And I suppose he was right in saying so, for what meaning could he attach to the designation, the world. He must have meant the world of his own experience, or that of his tribe, or his parents—probably extending to the end of the Dead Sea in one direction, to the Lake of Tiberias in another; to the Mediterranean in the west, and in the east to the wilds unknown beyond the road of the Hhaj pilgrimage. "From the other end of the world," quoth he, the companion of a shepherd boy with his flute, at a mountain spring, pitching pebbles at the sheep of his flock to keep them from wandering away over their extent of "the world."

As we proceeded, there were several other streams issuing from the hills, some of them falling in pretty cascades into thickets of oleander below. All these meeting together, formed a line of river flowing between grassy banks—near which we saw considerable remains of water-mills, not of great antiquity.

Next we reached two small forts: the one upon our side the stream they called Shuneh, (the usual name used for that kind of building;) the other was across the water, and they called it Shefa 'Amer. I should wonder if our guides knew the existence of the town called Shefa 'Amer, near Caiffa. They told us that both these forts had been erected by Deab's grandfather, but this is incredible.

Near the Shuneh I observed a very large sarcophagus, cut in the solid rock, but not so far finished as to allow of its being removed. In the court-yard there was nothing remarkable. There were, however, some ancient rabbeted stones lying near. Here I may remark, with respect to the sarcophagus, that such things are rare on the east of the Jordan, or anywhere else so far to the south. There are two lids of such lying on the plain of Sharon, alongside the Jaffa road from Jerusalem; and the next southernmost one that I know of (excepting those at Jerusalem) is an ornamented lid, near Sebustieh, the ancient Samaria; but they abound in Phoenicia.

Forward again we went, higher and higher, with wild flowers in profusion, and birds carolling all around. Then literally climbing up a mountain side, we came to a cleft in a precipice, which they called El Buaib, (the little gate,) with unmistakable marks of ancient cuttings about there. Traversing a fine plain of wheat, we at length reached the ancient city of Heshbon, with its acropolis of temple and castle.

That plain would be fine exercise-ground for the cavalry of Sihon, king of the Amorites. Fresh, and almost chilly, was the mountain air; but the sky rather cloudy.

How magnificent was the prospect over to Canaan! We were all persuaded that the Mount of Olives would be visible thence on a fine day; and I have no doubt whatever that the site on which we were standing is that peak—the only peak breaking the regular outline of the Moab mountains which is seen from Jerusalem.

We scattered ourselves about in several groups among pavements and columns of temples, (the most perfect of which are in the Acropolis,) sepulchres, cisterns, and quarries, picking up fragments of pottery, with some pattern work (not highly ornamental, however) upon them, and tesserae or the cubes of tesselated pavement, such as may be found all over Palestine. The Bedaween call them muzzateem or muzzameet indifferently. There were some good Corinthian capitals, fragments of cornices, and portions of semicircular arches, and pieces of walls that had been repaired at different periods. I entered one rock-hewn sepulchre which contained seven small chambers; six of these had been evidently broken into by main force, the seventh was still closed. This was S.W. of the Acropolis.

All the works or ornamentations above ground were of Greek or Roman construction, but we found no inscriptions or coins. Heshbon must have been at all periods a strong place for defence, but with an unduly large proportion of ornamentation to the small size of the city according to modern ideas. Before leaving this site, far inferior to 'Amman, as we found afterwards, I got the Arabs around me upon a rising ground, and, with a compass in hand, wrote down from their dictation the names of sites visible to their sharp eyesight:—

To To S.S.W. Umm Sheggar. S.E.S. Kustul. " Neba (Nebo?). S.E. Umm el 'Aamed. " Main. " Khan em Meshettah. S. Medeba. " Jawah. S.E.S. Ekfairat " Kuriet es Sook. (Kephiroth?). " Jelool. E. Samek. " Umm er Rumaneh. E.E.N. Ela'al. " Zubairah. N. Es-Salt. " Manjah. (The town not visible.)

These must have been the places that "stood under the shadow of Heshbon," (Jer. xlviii. 45.) One of them at least appears in Joshua xiii. 17, etc., among "the cities that are in the plain of Heshbon." {17}

In half an hour we came to Ela'al, (Elealeh,) (Isa. xv. 4 and xvi. 9, and Jer. xlviii. 34.) Large stones were lying about, and one column standing upright, but without a capital. Fine corn-plains in every direction around. Our tents pitched at Na'oor were visible to the E.N.E. through an opening between two hills. Cool cloudy day; all of us enjoying the ride through wheat-fields, and over large unoccupied plains—my old friend 'Abdu'l 'Azeez still adhering to me as his willing auditor.

On coming up to his camp at Na'oor, we found that Shaikh Deab had already arrived.

And now I may pause in the narrative to describe the status of (1.) ourselves; (2.) the Arabs.

(1.) Although apparently forming one company of English travellers, we were really a combination of several small sets, of two or three persons each—every set having its own cook, muleteer, and dragoman; but all the sets on terms of pleasant intercourse, and smoking or taking tea with each other.

We calculated that our horses and mules amounted to above a hundred in number.

(2.) The whole territory from Kerak to Jerash is that of our 'Adwan tribe, but divided into three sections—the middle portion being that of the supreme chief Deab, the northern third that of 'Abdu'l 'Azeez, and the southern that of a third named Altchai in the south towards Kerak; but they all combine when necessary for a general object.

The 'Adwan sow corn by the labour of their purchased slaves. Gublan at Cuferain, Deab and his son 'Ali at Nimrin, and a portion of the tribe called "the children of Eyoob" cultivate in the same manner a tract near the Dead Sea called the Mezraa'. These latter attach themselves sometimes to the Deab section, called the Dar 'Ali, and sometimes to the Gublan section, called the Dar Nim'r.

Their district is but a comparatively narrow strip at present, as they are pressed upon by the Beni Sukh'r on the east, who are again pressed upon by the 'Anezeh farther eastward; these last are allies of our people.

The Ghor or Jordan plain is open ground for all Arabs; and a few low fellows called Abbad Kattaleen, hold a slip of ground downwards between Es-Salt and the Jordan. Es-Salt is a populous and thriving town, the only one in all that country. Kerak, to the south, may be as large, and contain more remnants of mediaeval strength, but its affairs are not so prosperous.

This station of Na'oor {19} is upon a long, low, green plain, lying between two lines of high ground; and on a map, it would be nearly central between the northern and southern extremities of the 'Adwan country, or Belka. {20}

Strange and wild was the scene of the Bedawi encampment—the black tents of goats' hair, the dark and ragged population sauntering about, the flocks and the horses, the ragged or naked children; and then the women in their blue, only article of dress, long-sleeved, their uncombed hair, and lips dyed blue, all walking with dignity of step, most of them employed in hanging up washed fleeces of wool to dry. One in particular I remarked for her stately appearance, with the blue dress trailing long behind, and the sleeves covering her hands; she was giving commands to others.

As soon as we were well settled, and the first confusion over in making our several arrangements with servants, etc., Shaikh Deab sent a messenger asking permission for him to pay us a visit of welcome; and a serious ceremonial visit took place accordingly. The great man was arrayed in green silk, and carried a silver-handled sword and dagger; a few chosen men of the tribe formed his train; coffee, pipes, and long compliments followed. We all remarked his keen eyes, ardent like those of a hawk in pursuit of prey. On taking leave he announced his intention of presenting each gentleman with a sheep for our evening meal.

As soon as the indispensable solemnity of his visit was over, the camp became more animated; the sheep were slaughtered; various parties being formed for the feast, which was finished by the Arabs; and I invited all to my tent for tea at night, when the weather became so piercing cold that I found it necessary to have some hot brandy and water to drink.

In this place I wish to say how excellent is animal food dressed immediately after killing. The practice is found, all through the Bible histories, from Abraham entertaining the angels at Mamre, to the father of the prodigal son killing the fatted calf for his reception. At that stage the meat is exceedingly tender and delicate; whereas, if left, as the European practice is, for some time after killing, it has to go through another and less wholesome process in order to become tender again. There are numerous medical opinions in favour of the Oriental method of cooking the food immediately.

Another observation will not be out of place, on the almost universal eating of mutton throughout Asia. I do not mean the anti-beef-eating Brahmins of India, but in all countries of Asia, by eating of meat is understood the eating of mutton, and horned cattle are reserved for agricultural labour. In case of exceptions being met with, they are only such few exceptions as help to prove the rule. This may perhaps be attributed to the general insecurity of animal property in the East; but that I do not think a sufficient reason to account for it. It seems, however, that the ancient Israelites were not so much limited to eating from the small cattle.

Saturday, 12th.—Thermometer 37 degrees just before sunrise, nearly thirty degrees lower than under the same circumstances two days before. The night had been cold and damp; the grass was found wet in the places sheltered from the current of wind, which had elsewhere formed hoarfrost over the field. This reminded us of the elevation we had reached to; and we all exclaimed as to the reasonableness of Jacob's expostulation with Laban, when he asserted that "in the day the drought [or heat] consumed him, and the frost by night," (Gen. xxxi. 40.) We were upon frozen ground in the month of May, after passing through a flight of locusts on the preceding day.

A lively scene was the packing up. 'Abdu'l 'Azeez was happy at seeing us all happy, and laying hold of a couple of dirty, ragged urchins, he shook them well, and lifted them up from the ground, and offered them to me, saying, "Here, take these little imps of mine, and do what you like with them; send them to England if you will, for they are growing up like beasts here, and what can I do?" All I could do was to speak cheerfully to them, and make them some little presents. At the door of Deab's tent was his bay mare of high race, and his spear planted beside her. He accompanied us as far as his own encampment, two or three hours over wide plains and grassy pastures. Soon after leaving Na'oor he took us up a small hill, which was called Setcher, (probably Setker in town pronunciation,) where there were some ruins of no considerable amount, but the stones of cyclopean size. Query—Were these remains of the primeval Zamzummim? (Deut. ii. 20.)

At Dahair el Hhumar (Asses' Hill) we alighted in Deab's own camp, not large in extent or number of people, probably only a small detachment from the main body brought with him for the occasion, but not such, or so placed, as to interfere with the camp of 'Abdul 'Azeez. However, the well-known emblems of the Shaikh's presence were observed—namely, his tent being placed at the west end of the line, and his spear at its entrance. Here took place the formality of returning his visit to us yesterday; and here, after coffee and pipes, our presents were produced and given. The travellers were collected in a very long black tent, together with Deab, his son and friends. A screen at one end divided us from the women's apartment, i.e., what would be the Hhareem in houses of towns; behind this curtain the women were peeping, chattering, and laughing; of course we might expect this to be about the extraordinary-looking strangers. It has been conjectured that such a separation of the tent is implied in Gen. xviii. 6 and 10, when "Sarah heard it in the tent-door which was behind him;" but this has no foundation in the plain narrative of Scripture, only in the Arabic translation the words seem to imply that understanding.

The presentation of offerings was a grave and solemn affair. Each donor produced his tribute with an apology for the insignificance of the gift, which was then exhibited in silence by an attendant to the populace of the tribe crowding outside.

The ceremony was concluded by shouts of welcome, and a huge meal of pilaff (rice and mutton upon a great tray of tinned copper) and leban, (curdled milk,) with more smoking. Here we took leave of the chief, who sent on a detachment of his tribe to escort us for the rest of our expedition.

Remounted, and proceeded N.E. by N.; hitherto we had come due north from Heshbon. Passed a hill called Jehaarah, and in a short time reached the source of the river of Ammon, rising out of the ground, with a large pavement of masonry near it. A numerous flock of sheep and goats were being watered at the spring, it being near the time of As'r—i.e., mid-afternoon.

Here the antiquities of Amman commenced; and remains of considerable buildings continually solicited our attention, as we passed on for quarter of an hour more to our tents, which we found already pitched and waiting for us among a crowd of ancient temples and baths and porticoes,—in a forum between a line of eight large Corinthian columns and the small river; in front too of a Roman theatre in good condition. Some of the party, who were familiar with the ruins of Rome and Athens, exclaimed aloud, "What would the modern Romans give to have so much to show as this, within a similar space!"

This was Saturday afternoon; and we had already resolved to spend our Sabbath in this wonderful and agreeable place, so remarkable in Scripture history, and so seldom visited by Europeans.

I climbed up the seats of the theatre, and rested near the top, enjoying the grand spectacle of luxurious architecture around; then descended, and walked along its proscenium; but neither reciting passages of Euripides nor of Terence, as some enthusiasts might indulge themselves in doing, before an imagined audience of tetrarchs, centurions, or legionaries, or other

"Romanos rerum dominos, gentemque togatam."

Close to this theatre was a covered and sumptuous building, which I could not but suppose to be a naumachia, from its having rising rows of seats around the central space, with a channel leading into this from the river. As the shadows of evening lengthened, the heat of the day was moderated, and I sauntered along the bank of the stream till I came to a large headless statue of a female figure lying in the water. Some men lifted it upon the green bank for me; but it was far too heavy to be transported to Jerusalem for the Literary Society's Museum.

The swift-flowing rivulet abounded in fish, some of which the Arabs killed for us, either by throwing stones or shooting them with bullets, having no other means of getting at them; but the latter of these methods was too costly to be often adopted. However, we had some fish for dinner in "Rabbah, the city of waters." This stream is the commencement of the Zerka, which we were to meet afterwards, after its course hence N.E. and then N.W.

I feasted a dozen Arabs at my tent-door. Shaikh 'Abdul 'Azeez laughed when I remarked that this place was better worth seeing than Heshbon, and said, "This is a king's city. It was the city of King Ghedayus; and Jerash, which is still more splendid, was built by Sheddad, of the primitive race of the Beni 'Ad." Beyond this, of course, it was impossible for him to imagine anything in matters of antiquity.

In my evening's Scripture reading, I was much struck with the opening of the 65th Psalm: "Praise waiteth for Thee, O God, in Zion,"—which passes over all the examples of human achievement elsewhere, in order to celebrate the peculiar and undying honours of Jerusalem. So now the Grecian and the Roman colonies, who erected the marvels of architecture around me, are gone; while the Jewish people, the Hebrew language, the city of Jerusalem, and the Bible revelations of mercy from God to man, continue for ever. But most particularly does this psalm, taken with the circumstances there before our eyes, point out the difference made between Ammon and Israel, and the reason for it, as predicted in Ezek. xxv., 1-7:—"The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against the Ammonites, and prophesy against them; and say unto the Ammonites, Hear the word of the Lord God: Thus saith the Lord God; Because thou saidst, Aha, against my sanctuary, when it was profaned; and against the land of Israel, when it was desolate; and against the house of Judah, when they went into captivity; behold, therefore I will deliver thee to the men of the east for a possession, and they shall set their palaces in thee, and make their dwellings in thee: they shall eat thy fruit, and they shall drink thy milk. And I will make Rabbah a stable for camels, and the Ammonites a couching-place for flocks; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. For thus saith the Lord God; Because thou hast clapped thine hands, and stamped with the feet, and rejoiced in heart with all thy despite against the land of Israel; behold, therefore I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the heathen; and I will cut thee off from the people, and I will cause thee to perish out of the countries: I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord."

Sunday, 13th.—Dew on the grass; but it was the morning dew, which, like human goodness, was soon exhaled.

After meditating on the chapters in Numbers and Deuteronomy which refer to the conduct and destinies of Ammon and Moab, and reading Jer. xlviii. and xlix. within "the flowing valley" of the 4th verse of the latter, I was summoned to divine service in a tent fitted up for the purpose,—carpets on the floor "honoris causa;" a table covered with simple white, and a serious congregation of Englishmen before it, each with his own Bible and prayer-book. Thank God that to carry such books about in the wildest deserts is a characteristic of my countrymen!

This city of 'Amman is "the city in the midst of the river" of Joshua xiii. 9; and "Rabbah of the children of Ammon"—the royal city—"the city of waters" of 2 Sam. xii. 26, 27:—to the siege of which Joab invited King David, "lest he should take it, and it should be called after his name." Here was also deposited the huge iron bedstead of Og, king of Bashan.

Under the Ptolemy dynasty—successors of Alexander—it was rebuilt, with the name of Philadelphia. Several of the best edifices here, now partially ruined, belong to that period.

Under the Crusaders it was a flourishing city and district, retaining the Grecian name.

I could not but reflect on the infinite prescience that dictated the prophecies of the Bible—no tongue could speak more plainly to us than the scene around us did, the fulfilment of the denunciations that these cities of Moab and Ammon should remain as cities "without inhabitants"—"not a man to dwell therein"—and "driven out every man, right forth, and none shall gather up him that wandereth"—"desolate" and "most desolate."

In the afternoon we walked about to inspect the antiquities, and found several remains of Christian churches with bell-towers attached to them—certainly not originally minarets. These edifices had been afterwards, in Mohammedan times, converted into mosques, as evidenced by the niche made in the south wall of each, pointing to Mecca; and there are watch-towers for signals on all the summits of hills around. The city lies nestled in a valley between these hills.

The first building I examined was among those of the citadel placed upon a lofty eminence commanding the city, the ground-plan of which building is here shown—

[Picture: Ground-plan of possible old church]

The interior of the walls was so profusely embellished with festoons of roses and vine-grapes—both sculptured in stone and wrought in stucco, and of very large size—that there was no room left for pictures or images. The roof of this building is almost all fallen in. I imagined this to have been a Christian church, of very remote antiquity, on account of the vine and the roses, which are peculiarly Christian symbols—alluding to the texts, "I am the true Vine," and "I am the Rose of Sharon;" but the chambers in each corner are difficult to account for. The east and west ends have no doors.

Near this is a square mass of masonry, upon which are standing six columns, of magnificent dimensions, which no doubt originally supported a roof. Their capitals, of chaste and correct Corinthian style, with portions of ornamental entablature, are lying near. Perhaps belonging to this, but at some distance, lies a ponderous piece of architrave, on which, between lines of moulding, is an inscription in Greek—illegible except the three letters—[Greek text]. These letters were nine inches in length.

Nigh to this, again, was a square building of rabbeted stones, equal to almost the largest in the walls of Jerusalem.

All down the hill, descending to our camp, were fragments of columns and of decorated friezes of temples, that had evidently been rolled or had slidden down from their places.

Upon various walls of dilapidated edifices I observed the curious marks, slightly scratched, which almost resemble alphabetical characters, but are not; and which have, wherever met with and wherever noticed, which is but seldom, puzzled travellers, however learned, to decipher. I copied the following:—

[Picture: Bedaween Arab token 1]

And from the shaft of a column still erect, half way down the hill, I copied the following:—

[Picture: Bedaween Arab token 2]

I have since learned that they are the tokens of the Bedaween Arabs, by which one tribe is distinguished from another. In common parlance they are called the Ausam (plural of Wasam) of the several tribes. {33}

In a valley to the north of us, leading westwards from the main valley, we found a beautiful mausoleum tomb,—a building, not an excavation in rock,—containing six sarcophagi, or ornamented stone coffins, ranged upon ledges of masonry, along three sides of the chamber. These were very large, and all of the same pattern—the lids remaining upon some of them, but shifted aside. Beautiful sculptured embellishments were upon the inside walls and over the portal outside, but no inscriptions to indicate the period or persons to whom they belonged. Inside, however, were rudely scratched the modern Arab tribe-signs, showing that persons of such tribes had visited there; so that Europeans are not the only travellers who help to disfigure ancient monuments by scribbling. Along this western valley were several other such mausoleums. Thence we mounted on a different side to the summit of that hill from which I have here begun my description of edifices—upon a gentle sloping road, evidently of artificial cutting, quite feasible for ascent of chariots.

Near the square (possible) church before mentioned, (though I should say that our party were not all convinced of its being a church,) is a prodigiously large cistern, of good masonry. From the top of the strong walls of the building—while some Arab boys below me were reaching birds' nests—I got from our guide the following list of sites in the neighbourhood. They were of course unable to discriminate between ancient and modern names; and I do not find one Bible name among them all:—

From north to west— Thuggeret el Baider. Esh-Shemesani. Kassar Waijees. Esh-Shwaifiyeh. Es-Salt. Umm Malfoof. From west to east— 'Abdoon. Mesdar 'Aishah. Umm es Swaiweeneh. El Mergab. Towards the east— Merj Merka. 'Ain Ghazal. Ursaifah (in a valley with a river). El Muntar el Kassar, between two artificial hills.

The people informed me of a place, a little nearer than Kerak, called Rabbah. This latter may be a Rabbath-Moab.

I have no further notes to transcribe respecting the architectural remains; but they are so numerous and so important that a week would not suffice for their thorough investigation. All our party were highly gratified at having visited this Rabbath-Ammon—alias Philadelphia—alias, at present, 'Amman. We were not, however, so fortunate as Lord Lindsay in finding a fulfilment of the prophecy (Ezek. xxv. 5) with respect to camels, either alive or dead. Probably, when he was there, it was soon after an Egyptian military expedition to Kerak. The prodigious number of dead camels that he saw there would seem to indicate that a great Arab battle had been fought at that place shortly before. It is only in this way that we could account for a cannonball (about a six-pounder) which one of the boys carried about, in following us, all the afternoon, wishing us to buy it of him as a curiosity.

On returning to the tents, I found an old Jerusalem acquaintance—a Moslem named 'Abderrahhman Bek el 'Asali—and with him several people from Es-Salt; among these a Christian named Abbas.

From conversation with them I got some fresh information on Arab affairs. These people took the opportunity of glorifying their native town; related how they are frequently at war, and that successfully, with the 'Adwan; and when acting in concert with the Abbad, or much more so when in alliance with the Beni Sukh'r, can always repel them; only it happens that sometimes the 'Adwan get help from the more distant 'Anezeh; and this is much more than enough to turn the balance again. But even now the 'Adwan cannot come near the town; neither can they quite forget that the Saltiyeh people, during a former war, killed both the father and grandfather of Deab, and sent the head of the former to the tribe in a dish, with a pilaff of rice.

All the strength of the 'Adwan now lies in Shaikh Deab, with his son 'Ali, (who came to welcome us near the Jordan,) and Gublan the nephew. Old 'Abdu'l 'Azeez is considered childish, and unfit to lead them.

For us travellers, however, the 'Adwan are sufficient. The territory is theirs over which we are passing, and they do all they can to please us; only, of course, like all Arab guides, they take every opportunity of insinuating themselves into being fed by us, which is a condition "not in the bond."

Then came a visit of three men with good-natured countenances. These were Bedawi minstrels from Tadmor, (Palmyra,) who wander about from tribe to tribe, singing heroic poems to the accompaniment of their rebabeh, (a very primitive sort of fiddle.) No warfare interferes with the immunity of their persons or property. They are never injured or insulted, but are always and everywhere welcome, and liberally rewarded. Of course it is for their interest to gratify the pride of their auditors by fervid appeals to their ancestral renown, or to individual prowess and generosity.

The Arabic of their chants is unintelligible to towns-people; it is the high classic language of Antar.

I had made acquaintance with these same men before at Tibneen Castle, near the Lebanon, during a season of Bairam. Being Sunday, we requested them to visit our tents in the morning. Our Arabs, however, and the dragomans kept them singing till a late hour round the fires lighted among the tents. It was a cheerful scene, in the clear starlight, and the lustrous planet Venus reflected in the running stream.

Monday, 14th.—After breakfast, and an entertainment of music from our troubadours, and the bestowing of our guerdon, these left us on their way to the other camp at Na'oor; and our packing up commenced.

Strange medley of costumes and languages among the grand colonnades. Our Arabs left us, having the luggage in charge, and indicating to us the camping-ground where we were to meet again at night—thus leaving us in care of the Saltiyeh friends of ours, who were to escort us to their town and its neighbourhood, as the 'Adwan might not go there themselves.

Both the Christian and Moslem shaikhs of the town came to meet us on the way. The former was a very old man; and he could with difficulty be persuaded to mount his donkey in presence of a train so majestic, in his eyes, coming from the holy city of Jerusalem.

We passed an encampment of Beni Hhasan. These people are few in number, and exist under the shadow of the 'Adwan.

There were plenty of locusts about the country; but we soon came to a vast space of land covered with storks, so numerous as completely to hide the face of the earth, all of them busily employed in feeding—of course devouring the locusts. So great is the blessing derived from the visits of storks, that the natives of these countries regard it as a sin to destroy the birds. On our riding among them they rose in the air, entirely obscuring he sky and the sun from our view. One of our party attempted to fire among them with his revolver, but, by some heedlessness or accident, the bunch of barrels, being not well screwed down flew off the stock and was lost for a time; it took more than half an hour's search by all of us to find it again, and the Arabs considered this a just punishment for wishing to kill such useful creatures.

We traversed a meadow where Shaikh Faisel, with a detachment of the 'Anezeh, had encamped for pasture, and only left it thirty-five days before. His flocks and herds were described to us as impossible to be counted; but our friends were unanimous in stating that his camels were 1500 in number.

Came to Khirbet es Sar, (Jazer?) whence the Dead Sea was again visible. Our Arabs declared that they could distinguish the Frank mountain, and see into the streets of Bethlehem. Here there is a mere heap of ruin, with cisterns, and fragments of arches, large columns, and capitals; also a very rough cyclopean square building of brown striped flint in huge masses.

This site is three hours due north of Na'oor, in a straight line, not turning aside to Deab's camp or 'Amman. Northwards hence are the well-wooded hills of 'Ajloon. To my inquiries for any site with a name resembling Nebo, I was referred to the Neba, half an hour south of Heshbon, which is given in the list taken down by me at Heshbon.

Proceeding northwards, we had the hills of Jebel Mahas parallel on our right hand; and to our left, in a deep glen below, was the source of the stream Se'eer, which had flowed past us at Cuferain, our first encampment after crossing the Jordan.

Arrived at the ruined town (modern in appearance) of Dabook, from whence they say the Dabookeh grapes at Hebron {39} had their origin; but there are none to be seen here now (see Jer. xlviii. 32, 33)—"O vine of Sibmah, I will weep for thee with the weeping of Jazer: thy plants are gone over the sea, they reach even to the sea of Jazer: the spoiler is fallen upon thy summer fruits and upon thy vintage. And joy and gladness is taken from the plentiful field, and from the land of Moab; and I have caused wine to fail from the wine-presses," etc.: with nearly the same words in Isa. xvi. 8-10.

At a short distance upon our right was a ruined village called Khuldah. This was at the entrance of woods of the evergreen oak, with hawthorn, many trees of each kind twined round with honeysuckle. There Shaikh Yusuf, (the Moslem of Es-Salt,) who is a fine singer, entertained us with his performances, often bursting into extemporaneous verses suitable to the occasion and company.

On reaching an exceedingly stony and desolate place, he related the original story of Lokman the miser, connected with it:—"Formerly this was a fertile and lovely spot, abounding in gardens of fruit; and as the Apostle Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him!) was passing by, he asked for some of the delicious produce for his refreshment on the weary way, but the churlish owner Lokman denied him the proper hospitality, and even used insulting language to the unknown traveller, (far be it from us!) Whereupon the latter, who was aware beforehand of the man's character, and knew that he was hopelessly beyond the reach of exhortation and of wise instruction, invoked upon him, by the spirit of prophecy, the curse of God, (the almighty and glorious.) And so his gardens were converted into these barren rocks before us, and the fruit into mere stones."

Such was the tale. But similar miraculous punishments for inhospitality are told at Mount Carmel, as inflicted by the Prophet Elijah; and near Bethlehem by the Virgin Mary.

From a distance we caught a distant view of the Beka' el Basha, or Pasha's meadow, where we were to encamp at night, but turned aside westwards in order to visit the town of Es-Salt. Upon a wide level tract we came to a small patch of ground enclosed by a low wall, to which a space was left for entrance, with a lintel thrown across it, but still not above four feet from ground. On this were bits of glass and beads and pebbles deposited, as votive offerings, or tokens of remembrance or respect. The place is called the Weli, or tomb, of a Persian Moslem saint named Sardoni. But it should be recollected that in Arabic the name 'Ajam, or Persia, is often used to signify any unknown distant country to the east.

At 'Ain el Jadoor we found water springing out of the rocks, among vineyards and fig and walnut trees, olives also, and pomegranates—a beautiful oasis, redeemed from the devastation of Bedaween by the strong hand of the town population. Near this the Christian Shaikh Abbas, being in our company, was met by his venerable mother and his son Bakhi.

In every direction the town of Es-Salt is environed by fruitful gardens, the produce of which finds a market in Nabloos and Jerusalem. The scenery reminded me of the Lebanon in its green aspect of industry and wealth.

Entering the town we dismounted at the house of Shaikh Yusuf, and took our refreshment on the open terrace, on the shady side of a wall.

Some of us walked about and visited the two Christian churches: they are both named "St George," and are very poor in furniture. Of course they have over the door the universal picture in these countries of St George on his prancing gray horse. This obtains for them some respect from the Mohammedans, who also revere that martial and religious hero. Inside the churches we found some pictures with Russian writing upon the frames; the people informed us that these were presents from the Emperor Nicholas, which is worthy of notice.

The ignorance of the priests here is proverbial all over Palestine. I have heard it told of them as a common practice, that they recite the Lord's Prayer and the Fathhah, or opening chapter of the Koran, alternately, on the ground that these are both very sublime and beautiful; and it is said that they baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and the Virgin Mary. There is reason to believe them very grossly ignorant; but it may be that some of these reports about them emanate from the Roman Catholic authorities in Jerusalem, who never hesitate at propagating slanders to the detriment of non-Romanists.

In a church porch I found a school of dirty ragged children reading the Psalms from the small English printed edition; not, however, learning to read by means of the alphabet or spelling, but learning to know the forms of words by rote; boys and girls together, all very slightly dressed, and one of the boys stark naked.

People came to me to be cured of ophthalmia. I got out of my portmanteau for them some sugar of lead; but it is inconceivable the difficulty I had to get a vessel for making it into a lotion—bottles or phials were totally unknown, not even cups were to be procured. At one time I thought of a gourd-shell, but there was not one dried in the town; so they told me. I might have lent them my drinking-cup, but then I wanted to prepare a large quantity to be left behind and to be used occasionally. I forget now what was the expedient adopted, but I think it was the last named-one, but of course only making sufficient for immediate use. I left a quantity behind me in powder, with directions to dilute it considerably whenever any vessel could be found; warning the people, however, of its poisonous nature if taken by mouth.

One man came imploring me to cure him of deafness, but I could not undertake his case. In any of those countries a medical missionary would be of incalculable benefit to the people.

There are ancient remains about the town, but not considerable in any respect. It is often taken for granted that this is the Ramoth-Gilead of Scripture, but I believe without any other reason than that, from the copious springs of water, there must always have been an important city there. The old name, however, would rather lead us north-eastwards to the hills of Jela'ad, where there are also springs and ruins.

On leaving the town we experienced a good deal of annoyance from the Moslem population, one of whom stole a gun from a gentleman of the party, and when detected, for a long time refused to give it up. Of course, in the end it was returned; but I was told afterwards that the people had a notion that we ought to pay them something for visiting their town, just as we pay the wild Arabs for visiting Jerash. What a difference from the time of the strong Egyptian Government when Lord Lindsay was there!

At a distance of perhaps half or three-quarters of an hour there is a Weli called Nebi Osha; that is to say, a sepulchre, or commemorative station of the Prophet Joshua, celebrated all over the country for the exceeding magnificence of the prospect it commands in every direction. In order to reach this, we had to pass over hills and plains newly taken into cultivation for vineyards, mile after mile, in order to supply a recent call for the peculiar grapes of the district at Jerusalem to be sent to London as raisins.

Arrived at the Weli, we found no language sufficient to express the astonishment elicited by the view before us; and here it will be safest only to indicate the salient points of the extensive landscape, without indulging in the use of epithets vainly striving to portray our feelings. We were looking over the Ghor, with the Jordan sparkling in the sunshine upon its winding course below. In direct front was Nabloos, lying between Ebal and Gerizim; while at the same time we could distinguish Neby Samwil near Jerusalem, the Mount Tabor, Mount Carmel, and part of the Lebanon all at once! On our own side of Jordan we saw the extensive remains of Kala'at Rubbad, and ruins of a town called Maisera. On such a spot what could we do but lie in the shade of the whitewashed Weli, under gigantic oak-trees, and gaze and ponder and wish in silence,—ay, and pray and praise too,—looking back through the vista of thirty-three centuries to the time of the longing of Moses, the "man of God," expressed in these words "O Lord God, Thou hast begun to show Thy servant Thy greatness and Thy mighty hand: . . . I pray Thee let me go over and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon." The honoured leader of His people—the long-tried man "through good report and evil report," who, during his second forty years which he spent as a shepherd in Midian, had been accustomed to the abstemious habits and keen eyesight of the desert; and, at the end of another forty years as the ruler of a whole nation, living in the desert, "his eye was not dim,"—added to which natural advantage, we are told that "the Lord showed him all the land," highly cultivated as it was then by seven nations greater and mightier than Israel,—Moses must have beheld a spectacle from Pisgah and Nebo, surpassing even the glories of this landscape viewed by us from Nebi Osha.

Turning eastwards to our evening home, we passed a ruined site called Berga'an, where we had one more view of the Dead Sea, and traversed large plains of ripe corn, belonging, of course, to the people of Es-Salt. The people requested me to pray to God that the locusts might not come there, since all that harvest was destined for Jerusalem.

We met some of the 'Abbad Kattaleen Arabs, but we were safe under the escort of the Saltiyeh instead of the 'Adwan. These 'Abbad are the people who assaulted and plundered some seamen of H.M.S. "Spartan" in 1847, on the Jordan; for which offence they have never yet been chastised, notwithstanding the urgent applications made to the Turkish Pashas of Jerusalem, Bayroot, and Damascus. We did not arrive at the encampment till long after dark, and there was no moonlight.

The site is on a plain encircled by hills, with plenty of water intersecting the ground; the small streams are bordered by reeds and long grass. A khan, now in ruin, is situated in the midst—a locality certainly deserving its name, Beka' el Basha, and is said to have been a favourite camping-station for the Pashas of Damascus in former times.

Much to our vexation, the Arabs and the muleteers had pitched our tents in a slovenly manner among the winding water-courses, so that we had wet reeds, thistles, and long grass, beetles and grasshoppers inside the tents, which again were wetted outside with heavy dew. They had done this in order to keep the cattle immediately close to us, and therefore as free from forayers as possible during the night. Such was the reason assigned, and we were all too hungry and tired to argue the matter further.

My people complained to me of the insolence of the Saltiyeh guides that were with us; so I sent for the two shaikhs and scolded them. They persisted in it that they did not deserve the rebuke, that the complaints ought to be laid against a certain farrier who had come over from Jerusalem, etc., etc. My servant ended the affair by shouting at them, "Take my last word with you and feed upon it—'God send you a strong government.'" This at least they deserved, for they are often in arms against the Turkish government: and although so prosperous in trade and agriculture, are many years in arrear with their taxes.

Tuesday, 15th.—Early in the morning there were Saltiyeh people reaping harvest near us, chiefly in the Christian fields; for here the case is not as in Palestine, where Christians generally sow and reap in partnership with Moslems, for their own safety; but the Moslems have their fields, and the Christians have theirs apart, which shows that their influence is more considerable here; indeed, the Christians carry arms, and go out to war against the Bedaween, quite like the Moslems.

Before we left, the day was becoming exceedingly hot, and we had six hours' march before us to Jerash.

The hills abound with springs of water. We passed one called Umm el 'Egher, another called Safoot, also Abu Mus-hhaf, and Tabakra, and 'Ain Umm ed Dumaneer, with a ruin named Khirbet Saleekhi.

The 'Adwan Arabs were now again our guides, the Saltiyeh having returned home; but for some distance the guides were few and without firearms, only armed with spears, and the common peasant sword called khanjar; perhaps this was by compact with the Saltiyeh, as in about an hour's time we were joined by a reinforcement with a few matchlock guns. On we went through corn-fields, which are sown in joint partnership with the Arabs and the Moslems of the town; then doubled round a long and high hill with a ruin on it, called Jela'ad. This I have since suspected to be Ramoth-Gilead. We descended a hill called Tallooz; forward again between hills and rocks, and neglected evergreen woods, upon narrow paths. A numerous caravan we were, with a hundred animals of burden, bright costumes, and cheerful conversation, till we reached a large terebinth-tree under a hill called Shebail; the site is called Thuggeret el Moghafer, signifying a "look-out station" between two tribes. There we rested a while, till the above-mentioned reinforcement joined us. From this spot we could just discern Jerash, on the summit of a huge hill before us.

We now had one long and continued descent to the river Zerka. Passed through a defile, on issuing from which we observed a little stream with oleander, in pink blossom, thirty feet high, and in great abundance. Halted again at a pretty spring, called Ruman, where the water was upon nearly a dead level, and therefore scarcely moving; then another small spring, called Bursa, and also 'Ain el Merubb'a'.

Evergreen oak in all directions, but with broader leaf than in Palestine; also some terebinth-trees and wild holly-oaks. All the scenery now expanded before us in width and height and depth.

We took notice of several high hills with groves of evergreen oak on their summits; detached hills, which we could not but consider as remains of the ancient high places for idolatrous worship.

Still descended, till on a sudden turn of the road came the rushing of the Zerka, or Jabbok, water upon our ears, with a breeze sighing among juniper-bushes, and enormous and gorgeous oleanders, together with the soft zephyr feeling from the stream upon our heated faces—oh, so inexpressibly delicious! I was the first to get across, and on reaching the opposite bank we all dismounted, to drink freely from the river—a name which it deserves as at that place it is about two-thirds of the width of the Jordan at the usual visiting-place for travellers.

Some of the party went bathing. We all had our several luncheons, some smoked, all got into shady nooks by the water-side; and I, with my heart full, lay meditating on the journey we had hitherto made.

At length I had been permitted by God's good providence to traverse the territory of Moses and the chosen people antecedent to the writing of the Pentateuch, when they were warring upon Ammon and Moab. How solemn are the sensations derived from pondering upon periods of such very hoar antiquity—a time when the deliverance at the Red Sea, the thunders of Sinai, the rebellion of Korah and Dathan, the erection of the tabernacle, and the death of Aaron, were still fresh in the memories of living witnesses; and the manna was still their food from heaven, notwithstanding the supplies from the cultivated country they were passing through, (Josh. v. 12.) Elisha did well in after times on the banks of Jordan, when he cried out, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" And we may exclaim, in contemplation of these marvellous events of the still more remote ages, "Where is the Lord God of Moses, who with a mighty hand and stretched-out arm"—"redeemed His people from their enemies; for His mercy endureth for ever!" Nations and generations may rise and pass away; phases of dominion and civilisation may vary under Assyrian, Egyptian, Hellenic, and Roman forms, or under our modern modifications; yet all this is transitory. The God of creation, providence, and grace, He lives and abides for ever. His power is still great as in the days of old, His wisdom unsearchable, and His goodness infinite. Ay, and this dispenser of kingdoms is also the guide of the humble in heart, and He cares for the smallest concerns of individual persons who rest upon Him.

Strengthened by these and similar reflections, with ardent aspirations for the future, I rose up and pursued my journey, as Bunyan's pilgrim might have done, under the heartfelt assurance that "happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help."

We were now leaving behind us much of the Old Testament country—not exclusively that of the Mosaic era, but the land which had been trodden by the patriarchs Abraham and Israel on their several removals from Padan-aram to Canaan. But, while looking back upon the grand landscape outline with an intense degree of interest, it may be well to remark that, among all our company, there was a feeling of uncertainty as to the geographical boundaries of the lands possessed by the old people of Ammon, Moab, and Bashan. Probably there had been some fluctuations of their towns and confines between the time of the exodus and the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah.

One thing is certain—that we all, with one heart, were confident that God spake by Moses and the prophets; and that, with the incidents, the people and the local names we had lately passed among, we might as soon believe in the non-existence of the sun and stars, as that the books called "The Law of Moses" are not in every word a record of infallible truth.

We had now a different journey, and a different set of scenes before us, entering into the half tribe of Manasseh.

[Picture: Triumphal Arch]

Ascending the steep mountain-sides with two of the guides, I preceded the rest of the party, and even the baggage mules. In perhaps half an hour, (it may be more,) I came to a triumphal arch, the commencement of Jerash. One of the guides told me that they call this the Amman Gate of the old city; for that, in ancient times, there were two brothers, one named Amman, and the other Jerash. Each of them built a city, and gave it his own name; but called the gate nearest to his brother's city, by the name of that brother.

At this gateway I observed the anomaly of the columns on each side of the principal opening, having their capitals at the bottom of the shafts, and resting on the pediments, though in an upright position. It was very ridiculous. When could this have been done—at the original erection of the gate, or at a later rebuilding, after an earthquake had shaken the pillars? It would seem to me to be the former, as they are posted against the wall, and this is not disturbed or altered. The columns and the curve of the portal are gone, so that it cannot be seen whether originally they had capitals on the heads also of the columns. It is most probable that those remaining are not the true capitals, inasmuch as they have no volutes.

Passing by inferior monuments of antiquity,—such as a sepulchre, a single column, a sarcophagus, and then a square elevated pavement in good condition, upon which are several sarcophagi, some of them broken, and all with the lids displaced,—I came to a large circus of Ionic columns, almost all standing, and joined to each other at the top by architraves. Thence holding on the same direction forwards due north, our way was between a double row of grand Corinthian columns with their capitals, and occasional temples to the right and left. At the termination of this, but without continuing the same line, between columns of another Grecian order, I turned aside, at a vast Roman bath, to a spring of water, the commencement of a running stream, in a small meadow of tall grass and thorns, intending to pitch my tent there; but soon changed my mind, and got myself established within a wing of the Roman bath, which stood on higher ground, and had a good roof upon it.

The other gentlemen on coming up, adopted the choice of their dragomans and muleteers, near the water, after having the thorns and thistles cleared away. A fresh afternoon breeze that sprang up was peculiarly grateful to men and cattle.

After some rest, I proceeded to stroll about,—first of all to the great Temple of the Sun, on a rising ground to the west of the great colonnade, which, besides the columns along all the sides of the edifice, has a conspicuous portico in front, consisting of twelve magnificent Corinthian columns, a few of which are fallen. Thence I walked to the Naumachia, near the southern extremity of the city, (that by which we had arrived,) and found this in good condition, with the seats remaining, and the channel well defined which conveyed water for the exhibitions from the above-mentioned spring. The form is a long oval, flattened at one end.

In passing once more between the double line of Corinthian columns, I counted fifty-five of them standing, besides fragments and capitals of the missing ones lying on the ground.

From this I diverged at right angles, through a street of small public buildings, towards the bridge over the stream, (and this I called Bridge Street—part of the pavement still remains, consisting of long slabs laid across the whole width from house to house;) then upon the bridge, as far as its broken condition would allow, and returned to my home—everywhere among scattered fragments of entablature; numerous altars entire, and sculptured with garlands; also broken buildings, with niches embellished inside with sculptured ornament. In all my exploration, however, I found no statues or fragments of statues—the Mohammedan iconoclasts had long ago destroyed all these; but there were some remains of inscriptions, much defaced or worn away by the work of time.

The natural agencies by which the edifices have come to ruin seem to be—first, earthquakes; then the growth of weeds, thorns, and even trees, between the courses of stone, after the population ceased; or rain and snow detaching small pieces, which were followed by larger; also sometimes a sinking of the ground; and besides these common causes of decay, there comes the great destroyer—man.

Yet nature is always picturesque, even after the demolition of the works of human art or genius; and it is pleasing to see the tendrils, leaves, and scarlet berries of the nightshade playfully twining among the sculptured friezes which are scattered about in every position but straight lines; or other plants between the volutes, rivalling the acanthus foliage of the classic capitals.

Sunset: a beautiful landscape all around; and a pretty view of the travellers' tents, the Arabs, and the cattle below me.

After dinner I walked by starlight along the Ionic colonnade, which is a further continuation northwards of the Corinthian, and found nearly the whole length, with the intermediate pavement, remaining, consisting of squares about two feet in length, laid down in diamond pattern.

At night there were flickering lights and varieties of human voices below; the frogs croaking loud near the rivulet; and the rooks, whom I had dislodged from their home within the Roman bath, had taken refuge on the trees about us, unable to get to rest, being disturbed by our unusual sights and sounds.

Wednesday, 16th.—A visitor came early—namely, Shaikh Yusuf—with two of his people from Soof. The old man exhibited numerous certificates given by former travellers—all English—whom he had accompanied as guide either to Beisan or Damascus. He offered his services to take us even, if we pleased, as far as Bozrah.

Then came Shaikh Barakat el Fraikh with a large train. He is ruler over all the Jebel 'Ajloon, and has been residing lately on the summit of a high hill rising before us to the east, where there is a weli or tomb of a Moslem saint, the Nebi Hhood, who works miraculous cures. Barakat is in delicate health, and has twenty wives. His metropolis, when he condescends to live in a house, is at a village called Cuf'r Enji; but his district comprises fifteen inhabited villages, with above three hundred in ruins,—so it is said.

As for the saint himself, he has a very respectable name for antiquity, too ancient for regular chronology to meddle with—it is only known that he preached righteousness to an impious race of men previous to their sudden destruction. The circumstance of his tomb being on the summit of a high hill is perfectly consonant with the sentiments of great heroes and chiefs, as frequently expressed in poems of the old Arabs. The restoration of health which he is supposed to bestow, must be that effected by means of the fine mountain air at his place. At 'Amman, old 'Abdu'l 'Azeez had said that Jerash was built by the Beni 'Ad, a primitive race mentioned in the Koran.

A ridiculous figure appeared of a Turkish subaltern officer, who has come into this wild desert to ask the people for tribute to the Porte. A Turkish kawwas in attendance on him, I observed to shrug up his shoulders when he heard nothing but Arabic being spoken among us. They arrived here in the company of Shaikh Yusuf, whose son is nominally a Turkish military officer, commanding three hundred imaginary Bashi-Bozuk, or irregular cavalry. By means of such titles they tickle the vanity of the Arab leaders, and claim an annual tribute of 218 purses, (about 1000 pounds,) and are thus enabled to swell out the published army list, and account of revenue printed in Constantinople. {58}

So that next to nothing is in reality derived from these few sparse villages; and from the tent Arabs less than nothing, for the Turks have to bribe these to abstain from plundering the regular soldiers belonging to Damascus.

The 'Anezi Shaikh Faisel was encamped at only fourteen hours' distance from us.

Common Arab visitors arrived—from no one knew where: some on horseback, to see what could be picked up among us; even women and children. They must have travelled during the night. A handsomely-dressed and well-armed youth on horseback, from Soof, accosted me during one of my walks.

I bought two sheep for a feast to the Arabs that came about my tent; but they asked to have the money value instead of the feast. Alas for the degradation! What would their forefathers have said to them had they been possibly present?

Afternoon: a fine breeze sprang up, as is usual in elevated districts. I strolled again with an attendant—first outside the ancient wall on the east side of the rivulet, where it is not much dilapidated; it is all built of rabbeted stones, though not of very large size; then crossed over to the western wall, and traced out the whole periphery of the city by the eye.

In the great Corinthian colonnade, one of our party called me to him, and showed me some inscriptions about the public edifices along that line, and at the Temple of the Sun. There was one inscription in Latin, on a square pedestal; a similar one near it, broken across, had a Greek inscription. The rest were all in Greek, but so defaced or injured that seldom could a whole word be made out. However, we found, in a small temple beyond the city wall to the north, in a ploughed field, an inscription more perfect, containing the work Nemesis in the first line. There also I saw several mausoleums, with sarcophagi handsomely ornamented, and fragments of highly-polished red Egyptian granite columns, to our great surprise as to how they had arrived there, considering not only the distance from which they had been brought, and the variety of people through whose hands they had passed since being cut out roughly from the quarries of upper Egypt; but, moreover, the difficulty to be surmounted in bringing them to this elevation, across the deep Jordan valley, even since their disembarkation from the Mediterranean either at Jaffa or Caiffa.

The inscriptions that I had been able to collect were as follows:—

[Picture: Two inscriptions]

Among all the hundreds of fragments of fine capitals and friezes lying about Jerash, there was not one that was not too heavy for us to carry away. I found no ornamented pottery, although we had found some even at Heshbon; neither coins, nor even bits of statues. And remarkable enough in our European ideas, so little space appeared for private common habitations—as usual among ruined cities of remote antiquity—it seemed as if almost the whole enclosure was occupied by temples or other public institutions.

Yet there must have habitations for a numerous population. And, again, such a city implies the existence of minor towns and of numerous villages around, and a complete immunity from incursions of wild Arab tribes. These latter were unknown to a population who could build such temples, naumachia, and colonnades, and who were protected farther eastwards by the numerous cities with high roads, still discoverable in ruins beyond this—Belka and 'Ajloon. But of how different a character must have been the daily necessities of these old populations from the requirements of modern European existence. We should not be satisfied with the mere indulgence of gazing upon the aesthetic beauty of temples and colonnades. Climate, however, has much to do in this matter.

At night we had a general conference at the encampment respecting the future march, as we had now finished with the 'Adwan Arabs. {61}

The resolution was taken to proceed on the morrow to Umm Kais, under the guidance of Shaikh Yusuf of Soof, and proceed thence to Tiberias. He, however, would not ensure but that we might be met and mulcted by the Beni Sukh'r for leave to traverse their territory. He was to receive 500 piastres, (nearly 5 pounds,) besides 50 piastres for baksheesh; but whatever we might have to pay the Beni Sukh'r was to be deducted from the above stipulation.

Thursday, 17th.—Great noise of jackdaws under my vaulted roof at break of day, they having mustered up courage to return to their nests there during the night.

During the packing up of the luggage, I took a final and lonely walk along the colonnades to the Naumachia, and outside the wall S.W. of the Amman gate, where I observed some columns, or portions of such, of twisted pattern; returned by the bridge. The thrush, the cuckoo, and the partridge were heard at no great distance, near the stream.

We left upon the meadow a parliamentary debate of Arabs gathered around the chief's spear, all the men ranting and screaming as only such people can, and they only at the beginning or end of a bargain.

Slowly we defiled in a long line over rising ground, higher and higher, upon a good highway, bordered on each side by numerous sarcophagi; as along the Roman Appian Way; passed the well of Shaikh el Bakkar, and a sarcophagus with a long inscription in Greek, which I regretted not having discovered yesterday, so as to allow of copying it. From an eminence we took the last view of the pompous colonnades of Jerash.

Away through the green woods of broad-leaved oak, among which were to be found fine and numerous pine-trees, the air fragrant with honeysuckle, and the whole scene enlivened by sweet song of the birds, there were hills in sight all covered with pine.

Around Soof we found none of the druidical-looking remains mentioned by Irby and Mangles, but some romantic landscape and vineyards all over the hills.

Ten minutes beyond Soof we had a Roman milestone lying at our feet. Some of us set to work in clearing earth away from it, searching for an inscription, but could not spare sufficient time to do it properly. We found, however, the letters PIVS . PONTI . . .—indicating the period of the Antonines.

Next there met us a large party of gipsies—known, among other tokens, by the women's black hair being combed, which that of the Bedawi women would not be. What a motley meeting we formed—of Moslems, Greek-Church dragomans, Protestants, and Fire-worshippers, as the gipsies are always believed in Asia to be.

Among the oaks of gigantic size and enormously large arbutus, the effect of our party winding—appearing and disappearing, in varied costumes and brilliant colours—was very pleasing.

After a time we reached some fine meadow land, on which were large flocks of sheep belonging to the Beni Hhassan, whose tents we saw not far distant. The black and the white sheep were kept separate from each other.

And then appeared, in succession to the right and left, several of the rude erections, resembling the Celtic cromlechs, or cist-vaens, above alluded to, from Irby and Mangles.

[Picture: Erection resembling cromlech]

Our guides told us that they abound all over the hills. All that we saw were constructed each of four huge slabs of brown flinty-looking stone, forming a chamber—two for sides, one at the back, and a cover over all, which measured eleven feet by six. Their date must be long anterior to the Roman period. They are manifestly not Jewish, and consequently are of pagan origin. Are they altars? or are they of a sepulchral character, raised over the graves of valiant warriors, whose very names and nationality are lost? or do they indeed partake of both designs—one leading easily to the other among a superstitious people, who had no light of revelation?

My persuasion is that they were altars, as they seldom reach above four feet from the ground; and if so, they would serve to show, as well as the uprights forming a square temple by the sea-side, between Tyre and Sidon, that not in every place did the Israelites sufficiently regard the injunction of Deut. xii. 3, to demolish the idolatrous places of worship. {65}

Our road gradually ascended for a considerable time, till we attained the brow of an eminence, where our woody, close scenery suddenly expanded into a glorious extent of landscape. Straight before our eyes, apparently up in the sky, was old Hermon, capped with snow. About his base was a hazy belt; below this was the Lake of Gennesaroth; and nearer still was an extent of meadow and woodland.

The commanding object, however, was the grand mountain,

"That lifts its awful form, Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm. Though round its breast the rolling clouds be spread, Eternal sunshine settles on its head."

At this place we rested for a time.

All the day afterwards we kept upon high grounds, to avoid meeting any of the Beni Sukh'r—thus greatly increasing the length of the day's march, and having to scramble over rocky hills without visible paths. All this had been brought upon us by over-cleverness in bargaining with Shaikh Yusuf, our guide. We had stipulated that, in case of meeting with Bedaween Arabs, whatever should be demanded as ghufur, or toll for crossing their ground, should be deducted from his 500 piastres. He had informed us that the toll would be but a trifle; but after the burden of it had been once thrown upon him, he avoided the best and direct road, and we had hours of needless fatigue in consequence.

As a peasant himself, the Arabs allow him and his people to pass free, as no doubt they exact enough from the village in other forms; but they consider themselves entitled to levy tribute on European travellers. The latter, however, are always disposed to grumble at it.

We plunged again into thick green woods,—the oaks of Bashan,—with merry birds carolling all around. Oh, how cheering was the scene, after that devastated land across the river, where there is so little of forest land left in proportion to this! A friend once remarked to me, that were the two territories in the same relative conditions at the time of Joshua taking possession of Canaan, it would require double amount of faith in God's promises, as they ascended from Jericho to Ai, to believe that they had not left the promised land behind them. Now, this might be met by several satisfactory replies; but the plainest answer for the moment is, that the countries were not then in the same conditions relatively as they now are.

We passed a rock-hewn sepulchre on the side of a hill, in good condition,—just such as may be frequently seen in Palestine proper,—then found a large herd of camels browsing; and passing through a verdant glen, which issued upon cultivated fields, we came to the village of Mezer, and soon after to Tuleh, where we got a view of Tabor, Gilboa, and Hermon, {67} all at the same time. Were the day clear, there could be no doubt but we should have seen also the village of Zer'een (Jezreel) and the convent on Mount Carmel.

The weather was hot, and our people suffering from thirst, as Ramadan had that day commenced.

Had a distant view of a Beni Sukh'r encampment to our right. After a steep descent, and consequent rise again, we were upon a plain; and therefore the guide counselled us to keep close together, as a precaution against marauders. Our tedious deviation to-day had been far to the east: we now turned westwards, as if marching right up to Tabor, over corn-fields, with the village of Tibni at our left, and Dair at our right hand.

Arrived at Tayibeh, and encamped there for the night. Among the first people who came up to us was an Algerine Jew, who held my horse as I dismounted. He was an itinerant working silversmith, gaining a livelihood by going from Tiberias among Arab villages and the Bedaween, repairing women's ornaments, etc.

There are plenty of wells about this place, but none with good water. Wrangling and high words among the muleteers, and fighting of the animals for approach to the water-troughs. The day had been very fatiguing; and our Moslem attendants, as they had been involuntarily deprived of water during this the first day of Ramadan, deemed it not worth while at that hour to break the fast, as evening was rapidly coming on. Upon a journey, if it be a real journey on business, they are allowed to break the fast, on condition of making up for the number of days at some time before the year expires.

Evening: beautiful colours on the western hills, and the new moon appearing—a thin silver streak in the roseate glow which remains in the heavens after sunset. The night very hot, and no air moving.

Friday, 18th.—After a night of mosquito-plague, we rose at the first daybreak, with a glorious spectacle of Mount Hermon and its snowy summit to the north. Such evenings and mornings as travellers and residents enjoy in Asian climes are beyond all estimation, and can never be forgotten.

We learned that there are Christians in this village of Tayibeh, as indeed there are some thinly scattered throughout the villages of Jebel 'Ajloon, i.e. from Jerash to near Tiberias; and in the corresponding villages on the western side of Jordan, as far as Nabloos.

I always feel deeply concerned for those "sheep without a shepherd," dispersed among an overwhelming population of Mohammedans. They are indeed ignorant,—how can they be otherwise, while deprived of Christian fellowship, or opportunities of public worship, excepting when they carry their infants a long journey for baptism, or when the men repair occasionally to the towns of Nabloos or Nazareth for trading business; or, it may be, when rarely an itinerant priest pays them a visit?—still they are living representatives of the Gentile Church of the country in primitive days, down through continuous ages,—their families enduring martyrdom, and to this day persecution and oppression, for the name of Christ, in spite of every worldly inducement to renounce it. While we Europeans are reciting the Nicene Creed in our churches, they are suffering for it. They are living witnesses for the "Light of light, and very God of very God;" and although with this they mingle sundry superstitions, they are a people who salute each other at Easter with the words, "Christ is risen," and the invariable response, "He is risen indeed;" also in daily practice, when pronouncing the name of Jesus, they add the words, "Glory to His name."

Besides all the above, they are in many things Protestants against Papal corruption. They have no Vicar of Christ, no transubstantiation, no immaculate conception, no involuntary confession, and no hindrance to a free use of the Bible among the laity. For my part, I feel happy in sympathising much with such a people, and cannot but believe that the Divine Head of the Church regards with some proportion of love even the humblest believer in Him, who touches but the hem of His garment.

In our conversation, before resuming the journey, I mentioned the numerous villages that were to be found about that neighbourhood, utterly broken up, but where the gardens of fig, vine, and olive trees still are growing around the ruins. The people pointed out to me the direction of other such, that were out of sight from our tents; and the Jew quoted a familiar proverb of the country relating to that subject; also the Moslem shaikh, with his son, joined also in reciting it:—

"The children of Israel built up; The Christians kept up; The Moslems have destroyed."

In saying this, however, by the second line they refer to the crusading period; and by the last line they denote the bad government of the Turks, under which the wild Bedaween are encroaching upon civilisation, and devastating the recompense of honest industry from the fertile soil.

We—starting upon our last day's journey together—passed over wide fields of wheat-stubble. On coming near the village of Samma, the old shaikh came out to welcome us, and inquire if his place is written in the books of the Europeans. On examining our maps, one of our party found it in his; and the rest promised the friendly old man that his village should be written down.

Proceeding through a green and rocky glen, between high hills, with a running stream, the weather was exceedingly hot. Here our party divided,—ourselves advancing towards Umm Kais; while the baggage and servants turned to the left, so as to cross the Jordan by the bridge El Mejama'a for Tiberias. The principal intention of this was for the property to avoid the chance of falling into the hands of the Beni Sukh'r. Shaikh Yusuf now showed the relief from his mind by beginning to sing. This was all very well for him, who had nothing to lose; because, as it was said long ago—

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