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and full of loose stones. Yet, he adds, the cultivation is every where marvellous; affording one of the most striking pictures of human industry that it is possible to behold. The limestone rocks and shingly valleys of Judea are entirely covered with plantations of figs, vines, and olive-trees; not a single spot seemed to be neglected. The hills, from their bases to their upmost summits, are overspread with gardens; all of them free from weeds, and in the highest state of improvement. Even the sides of the most barren mountains have been rendered fertile, by being divided into terraces, like steps rising one above another, upon which soil has been accumulated with astonishing labour. A sight of this territory can alone convey any adequate idea of its surprising produce; it is truly the Eden of the East, rejoicing in the abundance of its wealth. The effect of this upon the people was strikingly portrayed in their countenances. Instead of the depressed and gloomy looks seen on the desolated plains belonging to the Pasha of Damascus, health and hilarity every where prevailed. Under a wise and beneficent government, the produce of the Holy Land, it is asserted, would exceed all calculation. Its perennial harvests, the salubrity of its air, its limpid springs, its rivers, lakes, plains, hills, and vales, added to the serenity of its climate, prove this land to be indeed a “ field which the Lord hath blessed."*
The ancient Shechem is one of the most prosperous towns in the Holy Land, being still the metropolis of a rich and extensive country, and abounding in agricultural wealth. Nor is there any thing
* Travels, vol. iv. p. 284.
finer than its appearance when viewed from the heights by which it is surrounded. It strikes the eye of the traveller who advances from the north, as being embosomed in the most delightful and fragrant bowers, half concealed by rich gardens and stately trees, collected into groves all round the beautiful valley in which it stands. There is a considerable trade, as well as a flourishing manufacture of soap; and the population has been reckoned as high as ten thousand,-an estimate, however, which Mr Buckingham thinks somewhat overrated. Within the town are six mosques, five baths, one Christian church, an excellent covered bazaar for fine goods, and an open one for provisions, besides numerous cotton-cloth manufactories, and shops of every description. The inhabitants are chiefly Mohammedans. The Jews, inheriting their ancient enmity towards the Samaritans, avoid the country which the latter formerly possessed; while the Christians, alienated by the suspicion of heresy among their brethren at Nablous, prefer the more orthodox assemblies at Jerusalem and Nazareth. · The Samaritans themselves do not exceed forty in number. They have a synagogue in the town where they perform Divine Service every Saturday, Four times a year they go in solemn procession to the old temple on Mount Gerizim; on which occasion they meet before sunrise, and continue reading the Law till noon. On one of these days they kill six or seven rams. They have but one school in Nablous where their language is taught, though they take much pride in preserving ancient manuscripts of their Pentateuch in the original character. Mr Connor saw a copy which is reported to be three
thousand five hundred years old, but was not allowed to examine, nor even to touch it.
If any thing connected with the memory of past ages be calculated to awaken local enthusiasm, the land around this city is eminently entitled to that distinction. The sacred record of events transacted in the fields of Shechem is from our earliest years remembered with delight. “ Along the valley,” observes a late traveller, “ we beheld a company of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, as in the days of Reuben and Judah, with their camels, bearing spicery, and balm, and myrrh; who would gladly have purchased another Joseph of his brethren, and conveyed him as a slave to some Potiphar in Egypt. Upon the hills around flocks and herds were feeding as of old ; nor in the simple garb of the shepherds of Sa. maria was there any thing to contradict the notions we may entertain of the appearance formerly exhibited by the sons of Jacob.”*
It has been remarked in reference to Jacob's Well, where our Lord held his conversation with the woman of Samaria, that no Christian scholar ever read the fourth chapter of St John's Gospel, without being struck with the numerous internal evidences of truth which crowd upon the mind in its perusal. Within 80 small a compass it is impossible to find, in other writings, so many sources of reflection and of interest. Independently of its importance as a theologi. cal document, it concentrates so much information that a volume might be filled with its singular illustration of the history of the Jews and the geography of the country. All that can be collected upon these subjects from Josephus, seems to be but a comment on this chapter. The journey of our Lord from Judea into Galilee,—the cause of it,-—his passage through Samaria,—his approach to the metropolis of that country,—its name,-his arrival at the Amorite field which terminates the narrow Valley of Shechem, the ancient custom of stopping at a well, - the female employment of drawing water,—the disciples sent into the city for food, by which the situation of the well and of the town is so obviously implied, the question of the woman referring to existing prejudices which separated the Jews from the Samaritans,—the depth of the well,—the oriental allusion contained in the expression, “ living water,”—the history of the well itself, and the customs thereby illustrated,—the worship upon Mount Gerizim,--all these occur within a few verses, and supply a species of evidence for the truth of the narrative in which they are embodied, that no candid mind has ever been able to resist. *
* Clarke, iv. 275..
The ancient Samaria presents itself to the traveller in these days under the name of Sebaste or the Venerable,-an appellation conferred upon it by Herod in honour of his patron Augustus. The Jew. ish historian describes at length the buildings erected by the Idumean prince, especially a citadel, and a noble temple which he intended to exhibit to fu. ture generations as a specimen of his taste and munificence. He adds, that the town was 20 furlongs in circumference, and distant one day's journey from Jerusalem. It is computed by modern tourists to be more than forty miles. The situation is extremely
* Clarke, vol. iv. p. 280.
beautiful as well as naturally strong, being placed on a large hill encompassed all round by a broad deep valley, and therefore capable of an easy and complete fortification. But the splendid city of Herod is now reduced to a village, small and poor, exhibiting only the remains of its former greatness. In one place, according to Dr Richardson, there are sixty columns of the Ionic order extended in a single row, marking the site of some gorgeous structure erected by the vassal of Augustus. Mr Buckingham counted eighty-three of these pillars, and alludes to a tradi. tion current among the natives, that they formed part of Herod's own palace. This may be the edifice mentioned by Josephus, who says that the king just named built a sacred place of a furlong and a half in circuit, and adorned it with all sorts of de-, corations; and therein constructed a temple remarkable both for its largeness and its beauty.
Mr Maundrell relates that in his time the place where the city had stood was entirely converted in. to gardens; and all the tokens that remain to testify that there ever was such a metropolis, are only a large square piazza surrounded with pillars, and some poor ruins of a church, said to have been built by the Empress Helena over the place where St John the Baptist was both imprisoned and beheaded. In the body of this temple you go down a staircase into the very dungeon where that holy blood was shed. The Turks hold the prison in great veneration, and over it have erected a small mosque; but for a little piece of money they suffer you to go in and satisfy your curiosity at pleasure.
A hundred and thirty years, aided by the destructive habits of Mohammedans, seem to have