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of water, of fountains and depths, that spring out of valleys and hills," how fruitful, and how goodly and pleasant a land, by the blessing of God, might the country again become! When the wicked Canaanites had possession of the land, it brought forth in such abundance, that "the men which Moses sent to spy out the land," were constrained on their return to say, "It is a good land which the Lord our God doth give us."-(Deut. i. 25.) "For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olives, and honey."—(Deut. viii. 7, 8.) But it is no longer what it once was, "the glory of all lands," in this respect. A blight, physical as well as moral, has been sent upon it for the wickedness of them that dwelt therein. In the emphatic language of Scripture, it was once "a land which God Himself cared for:"
"A land of corn, and wine, and oil,
It would be unjust, therefore, to estimate its former capabilities from its present appearance, as it is now under the curse of God, and its general barrenness is in full accordance with prophetic denunciation. The Israelite in our street, whose appearance was delineated with graphic precision by Moses more than three thousand years ago, is not a surer evidence of the inspiration of the Bible, than the land as it now exists; and the prophecies concerning it have been so literally fulfilled that they may now be used as actual history. "Your high-ways shall be desolate. I will make your
cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation. And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. Then shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest and enjoy her Sabbaths."-(Leviticus xxvi.) "The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled. Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers."-(Isaiah xxiv., xxxii.) "I beheld, and lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by His fierce anger. For thus hath the Lord said, The whole land shall be desolate."-(Jeremiah iv. 26, 27.)
There are prophecies, however, of another description, that present visions of hope to the now abject Jew, and which are too important to be passed by without notice. "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, which shall be left, from
Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."-(Isaiah xi. 11, 12.) "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim. Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days."-(Hosea iii. 4, 5.)
As touching the restoration of the Jews then, there can be no doubt that they will one day be restored to the favour of the Lord, and that their land will again receive the blessing of the Most High. It is the feeling arising from a consideration of its future, as well as its past history, that causes the traveller to look upon the Holy Land with so much reverence.
It is because of sin that the land is now desolate; but amidst all the afflictive dispensations with which it has been visited, a glory is seen shining upon its rocks, that gilds not the towers of the noblest of earth's palaces. The inheritance of Israel is "at rest;" in the nervous language of inspiration, it is "the Sabbath" of the land. The clouds that now rest upon it shall one day be dispersed, and in the exulting language of prophecy shall it be said, "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified." "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."-(Isaiah 1x. xxxv.)
It is refreshing to turn to these sublime declarations of Scripture. The sure word of prophecy has promised to Israel, and to Israel's land, a glorious resurrection; and the time, yea, the set time will come, when the promise shall be fulfilled: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
We arrived at El-Bireh about sunset, after a ride of nearly seven hours from leaving Nablous. The place stands on an eminence.
We stopped at a fine old fountain on the skirts of the village, where We there was a good supply of water, and let our horses drink. halted for the night at a hut of somewhat larger dimensions than the one we occupied at Jenin, but like the one at that place, it was miserably dirty, and equally destitute of a bed. There are a few Christians at El-Bireh, but the bulk of the population are Mohammedans. The people under whose roof I lodged were Christians, in name at least. Here, fortunately, I met with a young man, a relative of theirs, who spoke English, and who had been educated in the Bishop's school at Jerusalem. The people themselves not being able to speak English, I was glad to avail myself, as might be supposed, of his company. The young man's Christian name (though more like a Jewish than a Christian one) was Jacob Moses, During the evening, at my request, he read to me the 3rd. chapter of St. John's Gospel, with comparatively little difficulty, and acquitted himself, on the whole, very creditably with his lesson. I rose at one time during the night, from my hard resting place, and went outside the hut; it was beautifully clear and moonlight, and even at that late hour I heard very distinctly the sound of the mill-stones in the adjoining hut, and the voice of a woman singing in a monotonous and melancholy strain as she turned the mill, There was no music in the tones of her voice, but it was a sad whining noise that I listened to. An indisposition or incapacity for vocal music seems to be a characteristic of the people throughout the country generally, and probably no surer sign than this could be produced to show their oppressed condition. This remark is applicable alike to Egypt as well as to Palestine. Indeed, it was in Egypt where I first had occasion to notice it. The oppression, the misgovernment, under which the inhabitants of both countries labour, and which seems to press so heavily upon their spirits, quite unfits them for such an exercise. Hence, any attempt to sing is repressed; they are strangers to vocal melody, having apparently neither heart nor soul for it. A song from them would be out of place, and all that is elicited from them when they make the attempt is, at most, but a melancholy whine, showing a total absence of anything like music so far as the voice is concerned. In the language of the prophet Isaiah, it may be said, "The mirth of the land is gone." "All the merry-hearted do sigh; the mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth. They shall not drink wine with a song. All joy is darkened; the mirth of the land is gone."-(Isaiah xxiv. 7—11). Again, in the book of the prophet Jeremiah it is written: "Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bride
groom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate. And joy and gladness is taken from the plentiful field: . and I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses: none shall tread with shouting; their shouting shall be no shouting."(Jeremiah vii. 34; xlviii. 33).
I rose early next morning from my hard couch, and hailed the dawn of day. On the previous evening I had arranged with Jacob Moses to accompany me to Bethel. The horses being got ready, we set out on a fine clear morning, over a stony road, and passed many of the villagers with their ploughs and other implements of husbandry, going forth to their daily labour in the fields. They afforded a striking illustration of the Psalmist's words: "Man goeth forth unto his work, and to his labour, until the evening." On arriving at Bethel I found it a mean-looking village, consisting of a few huts, and the remains of other buildings. There is an old church still standing here, though in a dilapidated state, having been built probably in the times of the Crusades. As I examined it, I went through one of the openings in the walls and stood in the interior of what was once a Bethel, or House of God; its roofless aspect, however, showed that it had been long forsaken as a sanctuary.
Bethel is about half-an-hour's ride from El-Bireh. The situation has nothing attractive about it in point of scenery. The open district in which it stands, presents for the most part a desolate appearance; and it can only now be regarded with interest in connection with that memorable incident in its past history recorded in Genesis xxviii. 10-22, when the patriarch Jacob tarried here all night on his journey from Beersheba toward Haran. "And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth; and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places, whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this
place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Beth-el."
I noticed an ancient pool here, which had water in it; and on a hill at a distance, are the remains apparently of an old castle. We passed also, on the road between El-Bireh and Bethel, one or two old cisterns.
El-Bireh, "The Well," is the ancient Beeroth of Scripture. (Joshua ix. 17; Ezra ii. 25.) There is an old church here, somewhat similar in appearance to the one I saw at Bethel, without roof, but with the walls, which are built of large stones, in a somewhat less dilapidated condition. There are evidences of antiquity at El-Bireh, in the remains of old buildings, which are still visible in various places. There had been a battle fought in the neighbourhood a few months before my visit, as I learnt from my companion, Jacob Moses, between two hostile parties of the Mohammedans; they met each other with their guns and other weapons, and much bloodshed ensued. The cause of quarrel was respecting the claims of two rival sheiks, as to which of them should be appointed head man of the village. El-Bireh is remarkable as the first halting-place of caravans on the northern road from Jerusalem, and therefore, not improbably, the scene of the event to which its monastic tradition lays claim,-the place where the parents of Jesus "sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance, and when they found Him not turned back again to Jerusalem." St. Luke is the only evangelist who has recorded this remarkable incident in the early history of our Saviour. "Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and His mother knew not of it. But they, supposing Him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found Him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking Him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found Him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.-(Luke ii. 41-6.)