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16 § 16. Forests.
which is watered and fertilized by a small river, and is eight miles in length, and two and a quarter in breadth. II. The Valley of salt, reaching to the Dead Sea. 2 Kings 14: 7. 1 Chron. 18: 12. 2 Chron, 25: 11. III. The Plains of JMoab beyond Jordan, 5&in "19, also as in nizing, in which the Hebrews pitched their tents, Num. xxvi. 3. These plains are called, Num. 25: 1, and Josh. 2: 1, 3:1, Shittim, botton briz, or the valley of icacia. A variety of words are applied to level places or vallies, whose different shades of meaning cannot now be accurately determined. Eriz, however, is a valley, which has a torrent flowing through it in the winter; "a, *ā, Nna is a valley without any such torrent; Pr2 is perhaps a deep valley, as Topis a broad valley or plain. Of these vallies, that of Hinnom Bier. "à or bior. 75.73, near the southern wall of Jerusalem, is particularly worthy of mention for two reasons. The one, that it separated Judah from the tribe of Benjamin; the other, because in a certain part of it was non Topheth 2 Kings 23: 10, where infants were burnt to the idol Moloch, Jer. 7: 31.
Forests are mentioned in Joshua 17: 15, and in-many other passages. They are mentioned so frequently as to convince us, that the Hebrews anciently were not often compelled, like the modern inhabitants of Palestine, to burn the excrements of animals for fuel; although it may have sometimes been the case, as is probable from Ezech. iv. 18. The forests which are spoken of with the greatest praise in the Bible are, I. The cedar forest on mount Lebanon, see § 14. I. also 1 Kgs. 7: 2. 2 Kgs. 19:23. Hos. 14: 6–8. II. The forest of pines and firs on Antilibanus, which was first reduced into the possession of the Hebrews by David. 2 Sam. 8: 5, 6. 1 Chron. 18; 4. III. The forest of oaks on mount Bashan. Zech. xi. 2. IV. The forest of Ephraim, which the Ephraimites began to cut down so early as the time of Joshua, see ch. 17: 15, but of which there were some remains as late as the time of David, 2 Sam. 18: 6, 8, 17. A part of it seems to have been the wood near the city of Bethel, mentioned 2 Kgs. 2: 24. V. A forest on the boundary line between Judah and Benjamin, near the city Baala, which was thence called Kirjath Jearim,
§ 17. DESERTs. 17
to nonp, or the city of the forest, Jos. 15: 9, 10.60. Ezra 2: 25. Neh. 7:29. VI. The forest Chareth noir, and the forest , Chorsha Hynri. The latter was very large, in the tribe of Judah and the wilderness of Ziph, 1 Sam. 22. 5. 23: 14–16. VII. The shrub fields on the shores of lake Merom and the Jordan, called Tina jor the pride, and, sometimes in the English translation, the swelling of the Jordan. Zech. 11: 3. Jerem. 12: 5. 49:19.50: 44. VIII. The forest Joardes east of the Jordan, mentioned by Josephus as having been cut down by the Romans, see his Jewish War, B. vii. chap. 6. § 5. IX. The forests on the top of Carmel, and on the sides of mount Tabor.
If at the present period forests are rarely to be met with in Palestine, we must remember, that not only many of them were cut down by the Hebrews themselves, but that they were often destroyed also by the enemies, who at different times laid waste Judea. We should not be surprised, therefore, if wood should be wanting for fuel, though not much is required in that warm climate, and that the dried excrements of quadrupeds should be used in its stead.
§ 17. DESERTs.
The Deserts poon, mentioned in the Bible, are uncultivated tracts of earth of two kinds; some mountainous, but not destitute of water; others are plains, covered with sterile sands, in which fountains are very rare, and still fewer are those, which afford water fit to drink. They scarcely make their way out of the thirsty earth and are soon absorbed again. These plains produce, notwithstanding, a scanty herbage, upon which the sheep, goats, and camels feed. The sands, which are scorched by the heat of the sun, are very light; and are borne about by heavy winds, like the waves of the sea. One whirlwind piles them up in immense heaps and leaves them standing ; the succeeding one takes them and carries them to another place. In these deserts there were formerly villages and towns, Josh. 15: 61, 62. 1 Sam. 23: 19. They were not standing in the days of Jerome, (Prolog. in Comment. Amos.)
The mountain deserts are not of so dreary and unproductive a character. These deserts obtained names from the places, near which they were situated. The most celebrat
ed is the Great Desert, which according to Jerome, (Prolog. 18 $ 18 THE Joad AN, LAKE MEROM, AND GENNES ARETh.
in Comment. Amos,) commences at the city of Tecoa, which was six miles south of Bethlehem. It extends through Arabia Deserta as far as the Persian gulf, and north along the Euphrates beyond the city of Bir. This large tract is called in the Bible the Desert of Judah, because it commences within the limits of that tribe, Josh. 19:34. Ps. 63: 1. 2 Chron. 20:20. Mat. 3: 1. Mark 1: 4. John 10:40. The Desert of Engedi is on the western shore of the Dead Sea and connects with the desert of Ziph. Both have lofty mountains and many caves. More to the south is the desert of Maon, jing, the desert of Carmel with a city of the same name, the desert of Tecoa, zipro, also with a city of the same name ; all of which are parts of the desert of Judah. The Desert of Jericho is that chain of mountains, which separates the mount of Olives from the city of Jericho. The Desert of Beth Aven seems to be part of mount Ephraim, which exhibits, as Josephus himself . observes, in the part towards the Jordan, a bald and rough appearance. Josh. 18: 12.
§ 18. The JoRDAN, LAKE MEROM AND GENNESARETH.
The only river in Palestine of any considerable size is the Jordan, which, as was first discovered under the tetrarchate of Philip, has its source from lake Phiala, at the foot of Mount Libanus. Having first measured from this lake a subterranean journey of thirteen miles, and three quarters,it bursts forth from the earth with a great noise at Paneas, otherwise called Cesarea Philippi, see Josephus’ Jewish War, B. I. ch. 21. B. III. ch. 10. It then advances about thirteen miles further, and discharges its waters into lake Merom or Samochonitis.
Lake Merom in the spring, when the water is highest, is 7 miles long and three and a halfbroad, but the marshes extend to Daphne, where the Jordan issues from it. In the summer it is nothing but a marsh; in some parts indeed it is sowed with rice, but commonly it is covered with shrubs and rushes, which afford a hiding place to wild beasts, Jewish War, B. IV. ch. 1. § 1.
The Jordan, after it has left Lake Merom, flows on thirteen miles, and enters lake Gennesareth, which is also called the sea of Galilee or Tiberias. The waters of this lake, which is sixteen miles long and five broad, are pure and sweet, and it abounds in fish, Strabo, p. 714. It is surrounded with fruitful hills and mountains from which many rivulets descend.
- $19. The DEAD se A. 19
The breadth of the Jordan, at its egress from the lake Gennesareth, is from 150 to 200 feet, and it is 7 feet in depth. With many windings it runs through the plain, which is denominated, from the river itself, the Region of the Jordan. From the west it receives five tributaries, which are not much known; from the east it receives the Jabbok, the Jaezer, the Kerith, and the Acacia torrent, so called from a valley of the same name. The Jordan owes its origin to the perpetual snows of Antilibanus; consequently, in the time of harvest, which commences in the latter half of April, when it is swollen by the melted snows of that mountain, it dashes on rapidly, and fills the whole of its upper channel, Jos. 3: 15, 4: 18. 1 Chron. 12:15, For the channel of the river in the vicinity of Jericho, the place, of which we are speaking, is double. The lower one is ordinarily from 70 to 80 feet broad, through which the water flows the whole year; it is 10 or 12 feet deep, and the distance from the upper edge of the channel bank to the surface of the water is from 4 to 8 feet. The other channel, called the upper one, is broader than the lower, varying from 2 to 600 paces, and is filled in the beginning of summer by the swelling of the waters, as just observed. Travellers have commonly visited the Jordan either before or after this time ; hence they say nothing of its rise. Mirike, however, Travels, p. 119, testifies, that he found the upper channel still wet and slippery. Many are inclined to suppose, that the river has hollowed the first channel so deep, that it now never passes it.
§ 19. THE DEAD SEA. Hayr b.
The Jordan empties its waters into the Dead Sea, sometimes called the Eastern sea, sometimes the sea of Siddim, sometimes the sea of the Plain; because it occupies the plain of Siddim, in which the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Zoar were situated, Deut. 3:17. Gen. 18:20. 19: 24. et seq. Joel 2:20. Zech. 14:8. As the Jordan, before the celebrated destruction of this plain, discharged itself in the same place, that it now does, the conclusion is a necessary one, that the lake, which then existed, was subterranean, comp. Gen. 14:3. It was covered with a crust of earth, which was sustained by the Asphaltus, a pitchy, bituminous substance, which emerged from the bottom of the Lake, and collected during a long 20 § 20. The DEAD SEA.
course of years in large masses. The Asphaltus arises from the lake to this day, floats on its surface, and occasionally explodes, Isa. 24: 9–10. Wisd. 10:7. Jude 7. Hence it has obtained the name of the Lake Asphaltites, This statement is confirmed by Gen. 14:10, where mention is made of slimepits, through which the Asphaltus or bitumen penetrated from the subterranean water. This bitumen, being at length set on fire by the lightning, burnt, and the earth, by which it was covered, being deprived of its support, sunk in the waters, and the lake made its appearance, Gen. 19: 24. - - ** The lake is said to be 67 miles from north to south, and 17 in its greatest breadth from west to east. . Its waters are a little impregnated with alum, and very much so with salt; hence it is called the Salt Sea, Gen, 14:4, and because it preserves nothing alive in it, it is also called the Dead Sea. Whatever is immersed in its waters and taken out again, is covered with a crust of salt; which seems to have been the destiny of Lot's wife, unless indeed the discourse be merely of a monument heaped up of incrusted salt, Gen. 19:26. The shores, excepting the north western, are mountainous. On the north west, is a plain, impregnated with salt, barren, scorched, and covered with cinders. This fact explains to us the origin of the custom of sprinkling salt upon desert places, unless reference be had in the custom to other salt vallies, of which there are numbers in the east, Deut. 29:23. Jud. 9:45. In this plain grows the solanun melangenae, pyri, also called the vine of Sodom, which bears what have been denominated the apples and also the grapes and clusters of Sodom, otherwise called the bitter and poisonous grapes and clusters. They are said to be beautiful outside, but within, corruption and ashes. Deut. 32: 32. In the spring, when the Jordan rises, the lake itself is swollen. The inhabitants, therefore, dig pits on the shore, which receive the waters of the lake; the water in the pits stagnates after the fall of the lake, goes off gradually in vapour and leaves a bed of salt, which sort of salt is used by the whole of that region, Zeph. 2:9. Ezech. 47: 11. The other rivers, which empty into the Dead Sea are, I. from the west, Kidron, Zeuoggog row xsógov, John 18:1, which arises in a valley of the same name between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives; its channel is dry except in the winter. Its direction is