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their own line, Saul, the first king, belonged to one or other of these three tribes.

The connexion between the physical geography of this region and its history are, as in Judah, most strikingly exemplified by a view of its sacred and capital cities. The ruins of Shiloh, the great sanctuary of the house of Joseph, and, during the whole period of their supremacy, of the nation also, are scattered over a secluded yet most central eminence which rises in one of those softer and wider plains characteristic of this part of the Holy Land. Its antiquity is marked by the well by which the "daughters of Shiloh" danced when the tribe of Benjamin descended from their hills to carry them off, and by rock-hewn sepulchres, some of which may have been the last resting-place of the unfortunate house of Eli.

It was in a more permanent home that the chiefs of the new nation took up their final abode. In a valley green with grass, grey with olives, gardens sloping down on each side, fresh springs rushing down in all directions; at the end, a white town embosomed in all this verdure, lodged between the two high mountains which extend on each side of the valley-that on the south, Gerizim, that on the north, Ebal-such is the aspect of Shechem, afterwards Neapolis, and now Nabulus, the most beautiful spot in Central Palestine. Here, under the oaks and terebinths of Moreh, Abraham rested on his way from Mesopotamia, and here Jacob bought the parcel of the field, and found a home after his long wanderings-the first possession of himself and his race in Palestine.

Gerizim and Ebal were sacred mountains, and the same causes of natural advantages and religious association which had rendered Shechem the primeval possession of Israel in Palestine, rendered it naturally the first capital and the seat of the chief national assemblies. Within its ancient precincts, even after the erection of Jerusalem into the capital, the custom was still preserved of inaugurating a new reign. "And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.” (1 Kings xii. 1.) On the revival of Shechem as the capital of the northern kingdom under Jeroboam, and after the settlement there of the Samaritans after their return from exile, Gerizim, the oldest sanctuary in Palestine, retained its sanctity to the end. Close by, white Mussulman chapel still marks the alleged site of the grave of Joseph, and a few fragments of stone, the well dug by "our father Jacob," and the scene of that event in Our Lord's life, the special locality of which is, strange to say, the only one that has not been disputed.

It is difficult to imagine a more pleasant morning's stroll than that which is presented in a walk along the green and watered valley between Ebal and Gerizim, from Shechem to Shomron, or Samaria, the park and palace of the early kings. Situated on a hill in a fertile basin, Samaria combined strength, beauty, and productiveness. It resisted the successive assaults of Syrians and Assyrians. In later times, Herod chose it alone out of the ancient capitals of the north to adorn with the name and with the temple of Augustus, from which time it assumed the appellation which, with a slight change, it has borne ever since, "Sebaste;" and it is the only site in Palestine, besides Jerusalem, which exhibits relics of ancient architectural beauty.

The central hills of Palestine descend through long broken passes to

the edge of the great plain of Esdraelon-valleys of considerable depth, though never contracted to defiles. It was in these passes, for the most part guarded by strongholds, as the fortress of Sanur, that the thousands of Ephraim and of Manasseh (Deut. xxxiii. 17; Judith iv. 7) were ever and anon engaged in repelling invasions of the Holy Land from the north.

The tribe of Benjamin occupied the debatable ground between the great rival families, and afterwards kingdoms of Judah and Ephraim, and it seems to have followed alternately the fortunes of each. The table-land on which Jerusalem is situated extends for some miles into the heart of the territory of Benjamin. Not only has the direct road from Jerusalem to the north ever lain across this territory, but it also possessed conspicuous heights, whether for defence or for "high places of worship," and it commanded the more important passes of communication into the adjacent plains, passes which run, like all the valleys which deserve this name, in Southern and Central Palestine, not from north to south, but from east to west, or west to east, often, as Dr. Robinson observes, overlapping each other's heads in the centre of the table-land from which they take their departure. From Jericho and the valley of the Jordan by Ai or Michmash on the one hand, and from the Maritime Plain by the pass of Beth-horon, "the House of Caves," on the other, two main ascents present themselves, in which almost all the important military operations of Central Palestine-the ascent of Joshua, the invasion of the Philistines, the advance of Sennacherib, and the "going up and coming down" of Judas Maccabæus-are concentrated.

The remarkable heights which diversify the table-land of Benjamin with their summits, served, as we have seen, to guard these passes. The very names of the towns of Benjamin indicate how eminently they partook of this general characteristic of the position of the Judæan cities: Gibeah, Geba, Gibeon (in Arabic Jebel), all signifying "hill;" Ramah, "a high place;" Mizpeh, "the watch-tower.' El Birah, "the well," the ancient Beeroth, is the first halting-place of caravans on the northern road from Jerusalem, and therefore, not improbably, the seat of the event to which its local traditions lay 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. Er-Ram, marked by the village and green patch on its summit, is the "Ramah of Benjamin." Tel el Fulil, or Bean Hill, so called from being double-knobbed, is, in all probability, Gibeah, the birthplace of Saul, and, during his reign, the capital of his tribe and kingdom. Jeba, on the wild hills between Gibeah and Michmash, is "Geba," famous as the scene of Jonathan's first exploit against the Philistines. Tayibeh is "the city called Ephraim," to which Our Lord retired after the raising of Lazarus.

From the site of the sanctuary of Gibeon, now called Nebi Samuelthe "Mount Joy" of the pilgrims-the first view of Jerusalem and of the surrounding country is obtained, coming by the pass of Beth-horon, and as this sanctuary guarded the entrance into Judæa from the west, so did the greater sanctuary of Bethel guard the passes on the north and Thus circumstanced, the remarkable scenes of sacred history which Bethel has witnessed, occupy (with the single exception of Shechem) a longer series than any other spot in Palestine. Here Abraham pitched his tent when journeying southwards; here Jacob set up the rough stone


for a pillar which became Beth-El, "the house of God," the sanctuary of the northern tribes, and the site of Jeroboam's temple. Here, too, Josiah passed by, and razed and burnt the "altar" and "the high place," and the grove and worship of Astarte that had grown up round it. From that time the desolation foretold by Amos and Hosea has never been disturbed; and Beth-El, "the house of God," has become literally Bethaven, "the house of nought."

The southern frontier of Palestine almost imperceptibly loses itself in the Desert of Sinai. It is sometimes called the land of "Goshen," or the "frontier" (Josh. x. 41; xi. 16), doubtless from the same reason as the more famous tract between the cultivated Egypt and the Arabian Desert, in which the Israelites dwelt before the exodus. But it is more commonly known as "the south," and "the south country." Here, in the wide pastures between the hills and the actual Desert, the patriarchs fed their flocks; here were the wells-the first regular wells that are met by the traveller as he emerges from the wilderness-Moladah, LahaiRoy, and, above all, Beersheba. After the patriarchal times, it has but few recollections. It was indeed the first approach of the Israelites to their promised home, but not that by which they finally entered. The Amalekites dwelt there, and so did the Kenites, "with their sheep, and oxen, and lambs." Out of the portion of Judah the dry south was like

wise the inheritance of the children of Simeon.

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The hill country"- "the mountain country," as it is called-of "Judah” in earlier, of "Judæa" in later times, is, however, that part of Palestine which best exemplifies its characteristic scenery-the rounded hills, the broad valleys, the scanty vegetation, the villages or fortressessometimes standing, more frequently in ruins-on the hill-tops; the wells in every valley, and the vestiges of terraces, whether for corn or wine. Here the "Lion of Judah" entrenched himself, to guard the southern frontier of the chosen land, with Simeon, Dan, and Benjamin nestled around him. Throughout the troubled period of the Judges, from Othniel to Samson, Judah dwelt undisturbed within those mountain fastnesses. In these grey hills, and in their spacious caverns, David hid himself when he fled to the mountains like one of their own native partridges, and with his band of freebooters maintained himself against the whole force of his enemy. The tribes of the east and the north were swept away by the Assyrian kings, Galilee and Samaria fell before the Roman conquerors, whilst Judah still remained erect-the last, because the most impregnable, of the tribes of Israel.

On these mountain-tops were gathered all the cities and villages of Judah and Benjamin. The position of each is so like the other, that it is difficult to distinguish them when seen, and useless to characterise them in detail. The only eminence which stands out from the rest, marked by its peculiar conformation, is the square-shaped "Frank Mountain" east of Bethlehem-the burial-place of Herod the Great. Bethlehem itself is a good example of the "fenced cities of Judah," its situation, its well, its enclosed grotto, its corn-fields, and its pastures, are all characteristic, and being tenanted in part by Christians, the terraced vineyard-the emblem of the nation on the coins of the Maccabees-is still there. "A vineyard on a hill of olives,"" with the "fence," and "the stones gathered out," and "the tower in the midst of it," is the natural May—VOL. CXXXIV. NO. DXXXIII.

figure which, both in the prophetical and evangelical records, represents the kingdom of Judah.

The earliest seat of civilised life, not only of Judah but of Palestine, was Hebron. It was the ancient city of Ephron the Hittite, in whose "gate" he and the elders received the offer of Abraham, when as yet no other fixed habitation of man was known in Palestine. It was the first home of Abraham and the patriarchs; their one permanent resting-place when they were gradually exchanging the pastoral for the agricultural life. Under David, and at a later period under Absalom, the tribe of Judah always rallied there when it asserted its independent existence against the rest of the Israelite nation. It needs but few words to give the secret of this early selection, and of this long continuance, of the metropolitan city of Judah. Every traveller from the Desert has been struck by the sight of that green vale, with its orchards, and vineyards, and numberless wells, and, in earlier times, we must add the grove of oaks, which then attracted from far the eye of the wandering tribes. This fertility was in part owing to its elevation into the cooler and the more watered region, above the dry and withered valleys of the rest of Judæa. Commanding this fertile valley, rose Hebron on its crested hill. Beneath was the burial-place of the founders of their race.

But Hebron was not the permanent capital. The metropolis of Judah -of the Jewish monarchy and of all Palestine-was Jerusalem. Still, it is one of the peculiarities of the "Holy City," that it became the capital late in the career of the nation. Hebron, Bethel, and Sheche m extend back to the earliest periods-to times when Jerusalem was still a heathen fortress in the midst of the land. The tribe of Jebus probably took its name from the dry rock on which their fortress stood. Situated on the edge of one of the highest table-lands of the country, Jerusalem is essentially a mountain city; breathing, as compared with the sultry plains of the Jordan or of the coast, a mountain air; enthroned, as compared with Jericho or Damascus, Gaza or Tyre, on a mountain fastness. In this respect, it concentrated in itself the character of the whole country of which it was the capital the "mountain throne," the "mountain sanctuary" of God.

Deep ravines, like those of Kedron and Hinnom, which separate Jerusalem from the rocky plateau of which it forms a part, are, on the other hand, a rare feature in the general scenery of the Holy Land. Yet it is from these that she derived, in a great measure, her early strength and subsequent greatness. Joab first climbed that steep ascent, and won the chieftainship of David's hosts, and the "ancient everlasting gates" "lifted up their heads," and "David dwelt in the stronghold of Zion, and called it the City of David." In these early times the valley of the Tyropœon constituted an additional protection, shutting in Zion and Moriah into one compact mass, not more than half a mile in breadth. In the words of the Psalmist, "Jerusalem is built as a city that is at unity in itself."

The plain also, over which the suburbs and the walls were pushed as the city grew in dimensions, was encompassed with a barrier of heights, and was enclosed on its eastern side by the arms of Olivet, with its outlying ridges on the north-east and south-east. Galilee, Ascension, Prophets, the Mount of Offence, the Hill of Evil Counsel, and the Scopus, all are, more or less, renowned in history.

Jerusalem, besides the advantages of its position on the broadest and

most strongly marked ridge of the backbone of the complicated hills which extend through the whole country from the Desert to the plain of Esdraelon, was also pre-eminently central with regard to the two great tribes of the south-which at the time when the choice was made by David, were the chief tribes of the whole nation, the only two which contained a royal house-Judah and Benjamin. It was also the dividing line of the watershed, of the streams, or rather the torrent-beds, which pass westward to the Mediterranean, or find their way eastward to the Jordan.

The wilderness that extends past Olivet and Bethany derives its chief importance from having been traversed upon occasions of deepest interest by our Lord. It terminates over the deep valley of the Jordan in the lofty cliffs of Quarantina, the traditional mountain of the Forty Days' Fast. No point, save the country around the Sea of Galilee, where one peaceful presence dwells undisturbed on its shores and its waters from end to end, has a deeper interest attached to it than Jericho and the place of baptism. But the whole length of the river hollow, from its traditional and accepted (in distinction from its real) sources, its expansions into the Lake of Merom, the Sea of Galilee, or Lake of Tiberias, and its final absorption in the Dead Sea, is replete with historical and sacred interest. So also of Peraea, and its trans-Jordanic tribes. It was the frontier-land of Palestine, and therefore, through all its history, the first conquered and the first lost, by the hosts of Israel. It was isolated from the rest of Palestine, and the dwellers in it were always distinct. Yet was it the forest-land and the pasture-land of Palestine. Hence it was that whilst the rest of the Israelites pressed forwards to the rugged mountains of Ephraim and Judah, the more pastoral tribes of Reuben and Gad remained in this beautiful land. Part of the tribe of Manasseh also left the western hills to wander over the pastures and forests of Gilead and Bashan. There is another final and touching interest with which the "land beyond the Jordan" is invested; it was emphatically the land of exiles-the refuge of exiles. One place there was, too, in the beautiful uplands of Pisgah, consecrated by the presence of God in primeval times. Mahanaim marked the spot where Jacob had his angelic vision. To this scene of the great crisis in their ancestor's life the thoughts of his descendants returned in after years, whenever foreign conquest or civil discord drove them from their native hills on the west of Jordan. Thus it was with the unfortunate Ishbosheth, and afterwards with David, when he fled from Absalom. The refuge that the trans-Jordanic hills afforded to David, they afforded also to David's greater son. Finally, "Peraea,"-" The Land Beyond," as it was called in the Greek nomenclature of its Roman conquerors-still occupied the same relation, secluded and retired from the busy world which filled the neighbourhood of Jerusalem and of the Sea of Galilee. But even these numerous points of historical interest, derived from the peculiar aspect and position of the land-its physical geography, in fact -sink into insignificance when compared with the simple and touching fact, that it was (in opposition to the monkish traditions regarding Quarantina) into its solitudes that our Lord probably retired after His baptism, and thither also He appears to have withdrawn for a time, in the interval of danger which immediately preceded the end of His earthly


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