« AnteriorContinuar »
there was a magnificent church built here by Helena, which was a cathedral when this town was made a bishop's see. On the side of the hill they show a church in a grot, where they say Christ charged his disciples not to tell what things they had seen till he should be glorified.
It is very doubtful, however, whether this tradition be well founded, or whether it has not, as Mr Maundrell and other writers suspect, originated in the misinterpretation of a very common Greek phrase. Our Saviour is said to have taken with him Peter, James, and John, and brought them into a high mountain “ apart;" from which it has been rather hastily inferred that the description must apply to Tabor, the only insulated and solitary hill in the neighbourhood. We may remark with the traveller just named, that the conclusion may possibly be true, but that the argument used to prove it seems incompetent; because the term “ apart” most likely relates to the withdrawing and retirement of the persons here spoken of, and not to the situation of the mountain. In fact, it means nothing more than that our Lord and his three disciples betook themselves to a private place for the purpose of devotion.
The view from Mount Tabor is extolled by every traveller. “It is impossible,” says Maundrell, “ for man's eyes to behold a higher gratification of this nature.” On the north-west you discern in the distance the noble expanse of the Mediterranean, while all around you see the spacious and beautiful Plains of Esdraëlon and Galilee. Turning a little southward, you have in view the high Mountains of Gilboa, so fatal to Saul and his sons. Due east you discover
the Sea of Tiberias, distant about one day's journey. A few points to the north appears the Mount of Beatitudes, the place where Christ delivered his sermon to his disciples and the multitude. Not far from this little hill is the city of Saphet, or Szaffad, standing upon elevated and very conspicuous ground. Still farther, in the same direction, is seen a lofty peak covered with snow, a part of the chain of Anti-Libanus. To the south-west is Carmel, and in the south the hills of Samaria. *
The plain around, the most fertile part of the Land of Canaan, being one vast meadow covered with the richest pasture, is the inheritance where the tribe of Issachar “rejoiced in their tents." Here it was that Barak, descending with his ten thousand men from Tabor, discomfited Sisera and all his chariots. In the same neighbourhood Josiah, king of Judah, fought in disguise against Necho, king of Egypt, and fell by the arrows of his antagonist, deeply lamented. The great mourning in Jerusalem, foretold by Zechariah, is said to be as the lamentations in the Plain of Esdraëlon, as the mourning of Ha
* The following extract, from the unpublished journal already so often referred to, will amuse the reader:“We arrived at the foot of Mount Tabor. It is, in its general outline, a round regularshaped hill, but is rocky and rough enough when it is to be ascended. It has many trees, mostly Valonia oaks. It stands on the east of the great Plain of Esdraëlon, up a recess formed by Mount Hermon on the one side, and the hills towards Nazareth on the other. Its height from the plain I should guess at 1000 feet. We ascended the greater part of the way on mules. On the top of the hill is one of those large cisterns, or granaries, so often alluded to before. There was one also near Jennin, which we observed in coming in. I have since seen them in numerous other places, which puts an end to Dr Clarke's Pagan Remains. The whole of the Great Plain is fully cultivated, yet we could hardly see a single village, which adds to the peculiarity of its appearance,-one sheet of cultivation without a rock or tree.”
dadrimmon in the Valley of Megiddon. Vespasian reviewed his army in the same great plain. It l. s been a chosen place for encampments in every coile test carried on in this country, from the days of Ne. buchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians, down to the disastrous invasion of Napoleon Bonaparte. Jews, Gentiles, Saracens, Egyptians, Persians, Druses, Turks, Arabs, Christian Crusaders, and Anti-Christian Frenchmen--warriors out of every nation under heaven,-have pitched their tents upon the Plain of Esdraëlon, and have beheld their various banners wet with the dews of Tabor and of Hermon. And shall we not add that here too is to be fought the great battle of Armageddon, so well known to all interpreters of prophecy, which is expected to change the aspect of the eastern world ? When the French invaded Syria in 1799, General Kleber was attacked near a village called Fouleh, in the Great Plain, by an army of 25,000 Turks. At the head of twelve or fifteen hundred men, whom he formed into a square, he continued fighting from sunrise till midday, when he had expended all his ammunition, Bonaparte, at length, informed of his perilous si, tuation, advanced to his support with six hundred soldiers ; at the sight of whom the enemy, after having lost several thousands in killed and wounded, commenced a hurried retreat, in the course of which many of them were drowned in the River Daboury, at that time, like another Kishon, overflowing its banks. In a word, the champaign country which stretches north-west from Tabor has been the theatre of real or of mimic warfare in all ages. “We had the pleasure,” says Doubdan,“to view from the top of that mountain Arabs encamped by thou
sands; tents and pavilions of all colours, green, red, and yellow ; with so great a number of horses and camels, that it seemed like a vast army, or a city besieged."*
But we now proceed towards Nazareth, the modern Naszera or Nassera, a journey of about two hours from the foot of the mountain which we have just examined. It seems, says one writer, as if fifteen mountains met to form an enclosure for this delightful spot; they rise round it like the edge of a shell to guard it from intrusion. It is a rich and beautiful field in the midst of barren hills. The church stands in a cave supposed to be the place where the Blessed Virgin received the joyful message of the angel, recorded in the first chapter of St Luke's Gospel. It resembles the figure of a cross. That part of it which stands for the tree of the cross is fourteen paces long and six broad, and runs directly into the grot, having no other arch over it at top but that of the natural rock. The transverse part is nine paces in length and four in width, and is built athwart the mouth of the cave. Just at the section of these divisions are erected two granite pillars, two feet in diameter, and about three feet distant from each other. They are supposed by the faithful to stand on the very places where the angel and the Blessed Virgin respectively stood at the time of the Annunciation.t
When Dr Clarke visited this sanctuary, the friars
* Clarke, iv. p. 260. Doubdan, Voyage de la Terre Sainte, p. 507. Paris, 1661.-It is remarkable that all the descriptions of the view from Mount Tabor appear to be borrowed from this sedulous Frenchman, whose work, in point of topography, is still unequalled.
+ Journey, p. 112.