Images de page

resorted to for accurate and definite information; but Carne's Letters abound in local delineations so vivid, that even the sluggish imagination may represent the scenery which he describes, and enter into his associations with it.

Sandys (p. 155) describes the site of Jerusalem, as "a rocky mountain, every way to be ascended (except a little on the north) with steep descents, and deep valleys naturally fortified, for the most part embosomed by other not far removed mountains, as if placed in the midst of an amphitheatre."

We shall hereafter revert to Jerusalem and the country east of it, including the plain of Jericho. The region south of Jerusalem appears to have much the same general characters as have been already described. It is not, however, to be inferred that these mountainous tracts were formerly as destitute of cultivation as, under the government of the Porte, they have generally been. Numerous fertile valleys are still found in many districts; and the hills which now are so barren, were commonly, as many still are, terraced for the vine and the olive which the country produced in great abundance. Some passages from the "Three Weeks in Palestine and Lebanon", will illustrate this remark. The journey from Joppa to Jerusalem began on the 31st of March, 1831. When they were about ten miles from the latter, after a "siesta beneath the shade of an olive-tree, which was very grateful, the heat being oppressive", the travelers descended into a narrow valley.

"In this valley was a small village, surrounded with pear, cherry, and fig-trees, pomegranates and vines, some of whose stems were of a size too large to be spanned by both hands. Naked, stony, and desolate, as are the hills through which we have wound our way, they exhibit indisputable signs of ancient and very extensive cultivation. The marks of terraces, such as are seen on the maritime road between Nice and Genoa, are evident to their very summits: that it is a soil in which the vine would flourish luxuriantly, the stems we saw bore ample proof. Had the Genoese and Sardinian territories absve mentioned, rich and smiling as they now are, been subjected to a ruthless and continuous tyranny of eighteen centuries, such as has pressed its withering arm upon these vineyards of Ephraim, I have no doubt they would present the same sterile and desolate appearance". P. 23.

The only two towns south of Jerusalem which the present object leads to mention, are Bethlehem, the city of David, where our Lord was born; and Hebron, about fourteen miles further south, the burial-place of Patriarchs, the royal residence of David, and the abode of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist.-Along the sea-coast was Cæsarea, which was erected into splendour by Herod the Great, but is now entirely uninhabited; often spoken of in the book of Acts, and the place where the Gospel was first preached to the Gentiles; but no further connected with the Ministry of Christ, than because it was the general residence of Pilate

and other Governors of Judea, except when they came up to Jerusalem, at the time of the Jewish festivals.

Dr. Morehead's anonymous traveler thus speaks of Bethlehem and the region to the north-west of it, in which, about six miles from it, is the convent of St. John.

"Feb. 29. Bethlehem soon after came in sight -a fine village, surrounded with figtrees and olives: there is a deep valley below, and half way down, on the top of a hill, is a green plain, the only one we have seen in Judæa."-In proceeding to the convent, "we went on among stony hills with thin grass, where David, no doubt, used to feed his father's sheep. The rest of the road was over most ster le hills and the worst possible roads. Most species of trees being out of leaf, must at present increase the barren appearance of the land; but the olives, which are by far the most numerous, are always green. The next commonest are the fig-trees, and all about the convent of St. John the common cultivation is that of vines, which are allowed to run along the ground without any care. Anemones are common even in these barren regions, but not in the profusion remarked in the Plain of Sharon: near the convent the fields were green and rich, and there were many almond and apricot trees in blossom, which was a refreshing sight after so much desolation. There were likewise little kitchen-gardens, chiefly of cauliflowers, which are numerous and excellent in all parts of the country." Morehead, p. 252.

Lamartine, whose delineations we shall hereafter cite, gives a generallycorresponding account of this district, which he visited in October. The village of St. John, he says, stands upon an insulated hill, surrounded on all sides by deep and sombre valleys, themselves bounded by grey rocks which are hollowed out by nature into deep caverns. "Where the declivities are not quite precipitous, some plantations of vines may be seen, climbing up the trunks of little fig-trees, or falling back upon the rock. This is the aspect of all these solitudes. A grey tint, spotted with yellow green, covers all the landscape."

2. Route through SAMARIA, from Judæa to Cana of Galilee.

We may now take the route from Judæa, which we know that our Lord once took, through SAMARIA.

Josephus (Bell. Jud. 11. iii. 4) describes this country as agreeing in general features with Judæa; both consisting of hills and valleys, well adapted for the labours of the husbandman and very fertile, well stocked with trees, and abounding in fruits both wild and cultivated. These regions, he adds, have few rivers, but they are well watered by rain; and the brooks are exceedingly sweet, so that there is excellent pasturage, and the cattle yield a peculiar abundance of milk. He states also that both countries were very populous.

The general features of the route through Samaria, correspond much with those north-west of Jerusalem. We have various descriptions of it,

by Dr. Richardson, and the Rev. Spence Hardy (1832), traveling from Jerusalem, and by Maundrell, Clarke, and Buckingham, from Galilee. On entering Samaria, the country presents little but naked rocks, mountains, and precipices, and the general aspect is peculiarly wild and barren; but in ancient times these hills, as in other parts, were terraced, and bore corn, melons, and cucumbers, and the parts which were still more rocky served for the culture of the vine and the olive. The traveler finds the face of the country improve as he advances; and he passes many fertile valleys. Maundrell speaks of one of these, near Leban, about parallel with Joppa, as a "delicious vale". The road, winding with the valley, proceeds in a northerly direction through a well-cultivated tract: but then continues over a mountainous district from which, however, it descends into an extensive and fertile valley, about five or six miles from Sychar. Richardson (May 9) found the reapers cutting down an excellent crop of barley; and Hardy, who passed it (April 24) about the same time. of the year that our Lord probably did, describes it as covered "with the green corn moving in graceful waves from end to end when agitated by the gentle breeze. At noon (Mr. Hardy continues) we were upon an extensive bed of limestone; and the white ground reflected the rays of the sun so strongly as to render our eyes almost useless. Well wearied with our ride -we entered the pass that separates Mount Gerizim from Mount Ebal." These hills are so near each other, that though the valley between would easily contain the hosts of Israel, yet a voice from either side might "be heard distinctly on a calm day throughout the whole assembly." See Joshua viii. 33, 34. Gerizim lies to the south, and Ebal to the north; and at the foot of Gerizim, which is the more pleasant and fertile of the two, and full of springs, is Sychar, anciently called Shechem, or Sechem, by the Romans Neapolis, and by the present inhabitants Nablous. It is magnificently depicted by the Hon. Capt. Fitzmaurice, in Finden's Landscape Illustrations of the Bible: and this beautiful engraving gives an impressive idea not only of the particular scene of our Lord's conversation with the Woman of Samaria, but also of the mountain features in various other parts of Palestine. The valley between the hills is very beautiful and highly cultivated: Mr. Buckingham, early in February, found the corn green; and describes the prospect in glowing terms, which are fully borne out by all contemporary travelers, though in Maundrell's time the town at least little accorded with its present or its ancient appearance.

Jacob's Well is about a mile from the present site of Sychar; but Maundrell conjectures, from the remains of a very thick wall, that the city may have extended further towards the well; Buckingham, however, says that he saw ancient sepulchres, which must have been out of the city,

nearer to Sychar. The mouth of the well itself is covered with a broad flat stone, and the whole with an old stone-vault. The breadth of the well, Maundrell says, is about three yards, and the depth thirty-five; of which he found five yards full of water.* Here the narrow valley of Sychem ends, opening into a wide field, which is watered with a fresh stream rising between it and Sychem, and giving it great fertility and beauty. Maundrell (Mar. 24) was traveling towards Jerusalem; and he says that from Jacob's Well the road went southward, along a very spacious and fertile valley. As the great features of nature in Palestine remain, though numberless structures of the human hand are no longer to be traced, we can say, with confidence, that up that valley, and along the foot of Mount Gerizim, our Saviour himself passed; and that he preached his heavenly word, at the place where Joshuah gave his dying admonitions to the Tribes of Israel, and where the bones of that other servant of God were interred, who, though he died in Egypt, looked in faith to the land promised to Abraham. Gen. xii. 6. A place so full of solemn recollections, was well adapted for the communication of the words of everlasting life.

The country north of Sychar, to the entrance of the Plain of Esdraelon, Mr. Buckingham describes as composed of hills, abrupt and rugged, but well clothed to the summits; and he says that the valleys which they inclose presented (Feb. 16) scenes of unbroken verdure in almost every direction, the whole prospect being enriched by the clusters of olives and other trees, and by the rills and torrents which give luxuriance to the vegetation.-Samaria lies west of the direct road to Galilee. Mr. Hardy says that his party (Apr. 25) passed several mills on the stream of water produced by the springs near Sychar. From his interesting account of their visit to Samaria, now Sebastie, and their subsequent ronte, the following particulars are extracted. After passing a ruined aqueduct of twelve arches, they began to ascend the hills to the west; and an hour's ride brought them within sight of Samaria. The town stands upon a rounded hill of moderate and gentle ascent, itself in the centre of a cultivated valley, surrounded, at a few miles' distance, by mountains of considerable elevation. "We have here (says Hardy) another of those places near which we can stand as upon vantage ground, and look back upon the men and deeds of other times with an absolute certainty"; and he

In the Landscape Illustrations is a beautiful engraving of the scenery about Jacob's Well, from a sketch (1834) by Mrs. Bracebridge. It accords with Maundrell's description, except that there is no stone-vault over the wall. The direct road from Jerusalem to Galilee leaves Sychar a little on the right near Jacob's Well, where a road branches off to the town. On Gerizim are the ruins of the ancient Samaritan temple, which were explored and measured by Mr. Bracebridge.


gives a spirited application of this remark, to the facts recorded in the Scriptures respecting Samaria. Its connection with the history of Elijah, with its vicinity to the direct road from Nazareth to Jerusalem, render it next to certain, that, in the period preceding the great work for which he came, our Lord not unfrequently visited the place so noted in the days of old. At present it is almost depopulated, and its inhabitants miserably poor. From the range of hills lying north of the town, there is a view of the Mediterranean; and the travelers saw also "on the left" a sheet of water of considerable extent. They proceeded northwards over many hills, through passes of different elevations, and along plains gradually increasing in extent, in one of which they counted forty ploughs at work. The villages are numerous, and are situated on the brows of the hills. it was too late to attempt to cross Esdraelon, they turned off toward Jennin, the Ginea of Josephus, and spread their clothes for the night under a very large mulberry tree. Hardy says that this town is supposed, with some plausibility, to be the Jezreel of Scripture. Buckingham speaks of it as situated at the southern edge of a small but fine plain, cut off from that of Esdraelon by a stony ridge; and that behind it, as seen from the north, is a low range of grey hills, while in front some woods of olive give relief to the picture. Josephus mentions it (Bell. Jud. II. xii) as the scene of a battle between the Samaritans of the town and the Galileans who were going up to the Feast of Tabernacles; and it may reasonably be regarded as the place where our Lord was refused reception because his face was directed to Jerusalem at the time of the Passover. Harm. p. 179.


Such was the country through which our Lord journeyed in his way from Judæa.+ On entering Galilee, he had then to cross the Plain of Esdraelon, which will be spoken of hereafter; and passing near Nain, where he afterwards raised the Widow's Son, and then by Mount Tabor, and purposely avoiding Nazareth, which lies towards the west, he went on to Cana, the birthplace of the guileless Nathanael, where he had wrought his first miracle, and which was now again the scene of his benevolent power. It appears to be about six miles to the north-east of Nazareth, between which and Cana the road lies through some fine valleys, surrounded by hills of limestone. Cana is situated on a gentle eminence in the midst of one such valley; and a short way from the village, close to the road towards Nazareth, is a spring (says Dr. Clarke) of delicious

In Mr. Buckingham's 4to edition, p. 521, there is an interesting view, among the hills of Samaria, of the approach to the castle of Sanhoor, south of Jennin.

+ The remainder of the paragraph respects Galilee, but is introduced here to complete the view of our Saviour's journey.

« PrécédentContinuer »