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Bedouin tribes, no doubt, occasionally cross the Tyrian Ladder or the Galilean hills into Phænicia, but their excursions must be very rare compared with those to which Philistia has been subject, in early times from the mountaineers of Judæa, and in later times from the Arabs of the Sinaitic Desert.

The ranges of Lebanon also send across the narrow strip of Phænicia streams of a size and depth wholly unknown to Palestine. "The Leontes is, next to the Orontes, the largest river in Syria. And the more northern rivers, the "pleasant Bostrenus"-the modern Aulay-hard by Sidon ; the clear Lycus, River of the Wolf or Dog, so called from that fabled dog, whose bark at the approach of strangers could be heard as far as Cyprus; the river of Adonis, which still " runs purple to the sea, with the blood of Thammuz yearly wounded;" the sacred stream of the romantic Kadisha--are amongst “the streams from Lebanon” (Cant. iv. 15) which must always have kept Phænicia fresh and fertile; although as Gibbon justly remarked, and as Lamartine and Chateaubriand have since depicted in eloquent detail, “a mournful and solitary silence now prevails along the shore which once resounded with the world's debate.”

It is seldom given to men to unite the different powers of observation and reflective generalisation in their own person. Dr. Robinson was undoubtedly a learned and able scholar, and an acute observer in regard to points of comparative geography, but he is the most meagre, infelicitous, and unphilosophical generaliser that ever took pen in hand. As his “ Biblical Researches” are mainly characterised by a callous scepticism of all that is legendary and traditional, even in the primitive Church, so the same cold sarcastic spirit seems with him to have deprived nature in the Holy Land of all that pleases the fancy and inspires the imagination. In this respect the English divine and traveller, Dean Stanley, shines pre-eminent. If less minute in his details than Dr. Robinson, he is quite as satisfactory, while his comprehensive genius takes especial delight in seizing, with the eye of a true naturalist, upon those features in the physical geography of a tract which have most influenced the character of the people, and the history and fortunes of the country. Thus Dr. Robinson dismisses Phænicia with a paragraph or two of no interest, while Dean Stanley devotes several pages to tracing out those peculiarities of the plain which most contributed to rendering Phænicia what she was, as well as to those circumstances which have combined to render her what she now is a striking instance of the moral and poetical, as distinct from the literal and prosaic, accomplishment of the Prophetical Scriptures.

So it is with the plain of Asher, which is separated from that of Phænicia by the hilly ranges which advance into the Mediterranean to form the promontories of the White Cape and the Ladders of Tyre. Dr. Robinson informs us that the average breadth of the plain is from four to six miles, that on the east is the hill-country of Upper Galilee, occasionally wooded, rising for the most part steeply from the plain, but yet with frequent ridges running out in low points and gradually losing themselves in the plain, and that the whole tract which stretches to the base of Carmel, a distance of about twenty miles, is fertile and well


watered, having many fountains and two larger streams—the Belus and Kishon.

Dean Stanley, on the other hand, sees in the peculiarity that a broad beach, uninterrupted by the advance of tides, must always have afforded an easy outlet for the Philistine armies, for the kings of Egypt, for the forces of the Crusaders round Mount Carmel to the Bay of Acre, while the bluff promontory of the Ladder of the Tyrians cut off all communication round its base, constituting a natural barrier between Palestine and Phænicia, circumstances which brought the plain of Asher within the influence of the first more than the last, constituting Acre the northernmost city of the Holy Land on the western coast, and gathering round it whatever interest attaches to this corner of the country: Asher was the tribe to whose lot the rich plain of Acre fell—he “ dipped his foot in oil ;" his “bread was fat and he yielded royal dainties.” But he dwelt among the Canaanites; he could not drive out the inhabitants of Accho, or of Achzib; he gave no judge or warrior to Israel. One name only of the tribe of Asher shines out of the general obscuritythe aged widow, who, in the very close of the Jewish history, “ departed not from the Temple at Jerusalem, but served God with prayers and fastings night and day.” With this one exception, the contemptuous allusion in the Song of Deborah sums up the whole history of Asher, when, in the great gathering of the tribes against Sisera, Asher “continued on the sea-shore and abode in his creeks.” Thus is Dr. Robinson almost warranted in dismissing this region with the icy statement, “ This plain, like the preceding, is not directly referred to in Scripture.”

The importance of Acre, with its roadstead of Caipha at the opposite corner of the bay under Mount Carmel, have given it a history that is apart from that of the plain of Asher or the valley of Esdraelon, at whose mouth it stands. The peculiarity of its story lies in its many sieges—by Baldwin, by Saladin, hy Richard, by Khalil, by Napoleon, by Ibrahim Pasha, and by Sir Charles Napier. Within that city was also once cooped up all that remained of the defeated Crusaders. kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus, of the house of Lusignan, the princes of Antioch, the counts of Tripoli and Sidon, the great masters of the Hospital, the Temple and the Teutonic Orders, the republics of Venice, Genoa, and Pisa, the Pope's legate, the kings of France and England, assumed an independent command. Seventeen tribunals exercised the power of life and death.”

South of Carmel is the plain of Sharon, celebrated in Scripture for its rich fields and pastures, and which extends, with an average breadth of about ten miles from near Cæsarea, to Lydda, the city of St. George, and Joppa, now Jaffa, a length of over thirty miles.

The plain is divided into the Ramleh, or sandy tract along the seashore, and the cultivated tract farther inland, here called Khassab “ the reedy,” apparently from the high reeds which grow along the banks of some of the streams, one of them having always borne that name, Kanah, or “the reedy." (Josh. xvi. 8.)


Two of these streams, the Zerka and the Huleh, are known to the Arabs as Moiet Temsah, or “crocodile waters,” and the bones of these saurians have been lately detected by a German naturalist—Dr. Roth. The tract immediately upon the shore is in some parts marshy. The wood scattered in the plain is deciduous oak, rising in the north into trees, but in the south exhibiting

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only bushes. Dean Stanley suggests that these are the remnants of a great forest, which, according to Strabo, existed here down to the second century, and Dr. Robinson, on his part, suggests that it was from the frequency of this tree that the plain was anciently called “ Drumos," which the Septuagint have sometimes put for “ Sharon.”

Eastward the hills of Ephraim look down upon this plain, the huge rounded ranges of Ebal and Gerizim towering above the rest, and at their feet the wooded cone, on the summit of which stood Samaria. But its chief fame then, as now, was for its excellence as a pasture-land. Its · wide undulations are sprinkled with Bedouin tents, and vast Alocks of sheep, the true successors of “the herds which were fed in Sharon" in David's reign, under “Shitrai the Sharonite," and of the folds of flocks” which Isaiah foretold in “ Sharon" as the mark of the restored Israel. The only town that marked the region was Dor, with its surrounding district of " Naphath-Dor,” which was in the hands of the Canaanites. Its situation, with its little harbour enclosed within the wild rocks rising over the shell-strewn beach, and covered by the fragments of the later city of Tentura, is still a striking feature on the desolate shore. Pliny and Strabo notice a crocodile town and river in the same region, and the name of Tentura seems to have preserved the memorable hostility of the inhabitants of the Egyptian Tentyra to these repulsive reptiles.

With his usual magnificence of conception, Herod the Great determined to relieve the inhospitable barrier which the coast of his country opposed to the Western world, by making an artificial port, and attaching to it the chief city of his kingdom. Cæsarea rose in this district upon a rocky ledge, somewhat resembling that of Ascalon on the south and Dor on the north. Now-a-days, not a human habitation is to be found within the circuit of its deserted walls, yet of all the regions of Palestine there is none which is so closely connected with the apostolic history as this tract of coast between Gaza and Acre, and especially the neighbourhood of Cæsarea. It is, it has been remarked, as if Christianity already felt its European destiny strong within it, and, by a sort of prophetic anticipation, gathered its early energies round those regions of the Holy Land which were most European and least Asiatic.

The whole great maritime plain of the tribe of Judah, south of Lydda and Joppa, comprising the country of the Philistines, is called in the Hebrew Shephela, " the low country." The boundaries of this territory, though indefinite, may be measured by its five great cities, of which Ekron is the farthest north, and Gaza the farthest south. Two parallel tracts, as usual, divide the plain: the sandy tract, on which stand the maritime cities, and the cultivated tract, which presents, for the most part, an unbroken mass of corn, out of which rise here and there slight eminences in the midst of gardens and orchards, the seats of the more inland cities. Gath has entirely disappeared, but Ekron, Ashdod, Gaza, and Ascalon, retain their names ; and the three last have sites sufficiently commanding to justify their ancient fame. The four points thus indicated in the Philistine territory Dean Stanley points out, ever seeking for the philosophy of national history in the natural circumstances in which the people were placed—its seaboard, its strongholds, its fertility, its level plain-contain the solution of much of their history.

The Philistines, of seafaring habits, favoured a piscine form of worship

Dagon, the fish-god, was honoured with stately temples even in the inland cities of Gaza and Ashdod ; Derceto, the fish-goddess, was worshipped at Ascalon, at Jaffa, and at the port of Gaza, their three maritime towns. Dean Stanley notices Ascalon and Jaffa as the only ports of the Philistines, but Gaza had a port called “Gaza on the Sea" as also “ Majuma.” Constantine called it “Constantia,” from the name of his son, giving it at the same time municipal rights. Julian took away this name, and ordered it to be called the port of Gaza, but subsequent emperors restored the name and the privileges of the place.

All the cities of Philistia stand on hills that rise above the plain, and are remarkable for the extreme beauty and profusion of the gardens which surround them—the scarlet blossoms of the pomegranates, and the enormous oranges which gild the green foliage of their famous groves. Gaza is surrounded by fruit-gardens, hedged with prickly pears, and stretching northward is the largest olive-grove in Palestine. (Exped. to the Euphrates, vol. i. p. 493.) “Well might Jafia the beautiful be

' so called; well might Ascalon be deemed the haunt of the Syrian Venus. Her temple is destroyed, but the sacred doves still fill with their cooings the luxuriant gardens which grow in the sandy hollow within the ruined walls."

The most striking and characteristic feature of Philistia is, however, its immense plain, before noticed, of corn-fields, stretching from the edge of the sandy tract right up to the very wall of the hills of Judah. These rich fields must have been the great source at once of the power and the value of Philistia, and the cause of the unceasing efforts of Israel to master the territory. These are the fields of “standing corn,” with “ vineyards and olives" amongst them, into which the three hundred foxes," or "jackals” (shualīm), were sent down with firebrands from the neighbouring hills.

The free access to the wilderness on the south is what has ever made Philistia the grand route of the invaders of Palestine from the south, and of Egypt from the north. Some twenty miles south of Gaza are the remains of ancient Raphia, the last town of Syria, where two granite columns yet standing are supposed by the natives to mark the division between Africa and Asia. (Colonel Leake in Preface to Burckhardt's Travels.) Gaza itself was the Ecbatana of Syria of Herodotus, and the spot where Cambyses perished.* Hence the possession of this plain by the Edomite Arabs, who, taking Eleutheropolis for their capital, occupied it under the name of Idumea, during the period of the Herods. Hence also the insecurity of these parts at the present day from the unchecked incursions of the Bedouin tribes.

Amongst these cities of the plain, ever playing a part in resisting the attacks of besieging armies, Ascalon derives a peculiar interest from Richard Cæur de Lion having held his court within its walls and towers still standing—and the white-faced hill, which from their heights forms so conspicuous an object in the western part of the plain, is the " Blanchegarde” of the crusading chroniclers, which witnessed his chief adventures. Dean Stanley suggests that it may also have been the Libnah, or • White City," which Sennacherib was besieging immediately before the

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* Sir H. Rawlinson and Dean Stanley have been led, by apparently an error of Pliny's, to place the Ecbatana of Syria at Mount Carmel.

destruction of his army. Palestine itself, “ the Land of the Philistines,” owes its name to the Greeks, having followed in the track of the Egyptian Pharaohs and Ptolemys along the coast northwards into Syria.

There are many plains in the hilly country that intervenes between the three great maritime plains of Asher, Sharon, and Philistia, and the valley of the Jordan. Such is the plain of Asor, near Kedesh, where Jonathan's troops defeated the Syrians. (1 Macc. xi. ; and Joseph., Antiq., 13.) Such also is the plain of Ramah south of the high mountains of Naphthali, and full of very old olive-trees, called by the natives Rûmy, or “Greek,” from a tradition that they are older than the Muhammadan conquest. The prospect from the brow of the mountain above Ramah over this plain and the country farther south, is very beautiful, and is, according to Dr. Robinson, scarcely surpassed in Palestine.

The plain of Zebulon, called by Josephus the great plain of Asochis, and now “el Bûttauf,” is a noble expanse-a glorious portion of the inheritance of Zebulon. On the southern side of this plain is the humble village of Cana, where Christ performed his first miracle. Connected with this plain are two smaller ones, Tur-an (Robinson reads, incorrectly, Tu'ran; hills were compared in Seripture language, little ones to lambs, big ones to bulls, as - Tur,” for Mount Tabor and Mount Olivet, and as in the Taurus of the Romans) and Hattin, with its two-horned hill-the traditional Mount of the Sermon—where the Crusaders were finally and decisively defeated by Saladin (A.D. 1187).

The so-called plain of Esdraelon, which, with that of Zebulon, breaks the continuity of the central upland and rocky limestone territory, is composed of several parts, the chief of which are in the present day known as the Ard-el-Hammar, the Merj-ibn-Amir, or the valley of the Mukutta River, and the plain of Megiddo, or of Jezreel. These again are subdivided by hills and hilly ranges into different valleys, amid which, mostly situated on slight eminences, are the sites of Nain, of Endor at the foot of little Hermon, of Lejjun or Megiddo, of Engannim, of Nazareth (the latter more secluded among the hills), and others, looking like dots spotted over the rich carpet spread southward and westward of Mount Tabor. Ou a conical hill to the north-west stands the ruined castle of Sepphoris, or Dio Cæsarea, once the capital of the district. (Exp. to the Eup., vol. i. p. 462.) Dr. Robinson divides the plain into the Jenin or Engaonim portion, the valley of Jezreel, and the plains of Tabor and of Gilboa.

This lowland of Esdraelon, across which Captain William Allen would have carried a canal to the Jordan (The Dead Sea: a New Route to India, &c. 1855), and which it was once projected to colonise with Jews, lies between the hills of Galilee on the north, and of Samaria on the south. It, in parts, completely interrupts the line of hill country, and forms, in connexion with the valley of Kishon in the west, and its own middle arm in the east, an easy roadway from the coast to the River Jordan.

This broad depression has ever been the boundary and debatable land between the central and northern tribes of Palestine, and the plain itself and its environs have been in every age the scene of the conflicts and struggles of armed bands. It was in the valley of Jezreel (Zerin), between little Hermon and Mount Gilboa, that Gideon discomfited the Midianites; and here, too, was fought the battle between Israel and the

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