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the murders repeatedly committed there. Of this wilderness our Saviour speaks in the parable of the good Samaritan, Luke x. 30-35. Not far from the rising ground already mentioned, the ruins of a caravanserai, or eastern inn, may still be seen, called the Samaritans' Inn, and at no great distance the remains of a fort called the Samaritans' Castle. From this wilderness, the traveller passes over a steep declivity into the plain of Jericho.

III. The wilderness of Judah extends along the western shore of the Dead Sea. Here John the Baptist really lived and preached, and not in the district which now bears his name; but which is, in fact, a garden, not a desert. (See p. 93.)

IV. Within the bounds of the wilderness of Judah, and forming a part of it, is the wilderness of En-gedi, where David hid himself, to elude the pursuit of Saul, 1 Sam. xxiv. 1. It is full of precipitous hills.

On the southern border of this desert, in the wilderness of Ziph, to which David fled from Keilah, with 600 men, 1 Sam. xxiii. 13-15. This also abounds in hills and caverns, as well as in wild beasts.

South of Ziph lies the wilderness of Maon, where David took refuge, when the Ziphites betrayed him, 1 Sam. xxiii. 19, 24, 25. It extends to the mountains of Idumea, and is intersected by many deep ravines.

V. To the west of the deserts just described, at the southern extremity of the land of Israel, lay the wilderness of Beer-sheba, in which Hagar wandered when expelled from her master's house, Gen. xxi. 14.

VI. The wilderness of Tekoa was also, in fact, a part of the wilderness of Judah, which lay to the south-east of Jerusalem. Here Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, defeated the rebellious Ammonites and Moabites, 2 Chron. xx. 20. Here, too, Jonathan, the Maccabee, took refuge, when Bacchides, the general of the king of Syria, sought his life.

VII. The wilderness of Gibeon, mentioned in 2 Sam.

ii. 24, was, no doubt, situated in the neighbourhood of the city of Gibeon, north-west from Jerusalem.

VIII. The wilderness of Beth-aven is mentioned, as forming a part of the northern boundary of the tribe of Benjamin, Josh. xviii. 12.

Palestine is not now, and probably never has been, a very woody country. Few forests are mentioned in the Bible. When the Israelites first entered Canaan, the region which fell to the lot of the tribe of Ephraim was woodland, Josh. xvii. 15-18. Joshua advises the Ephraimites to fell the trees, and make room for their settlements. It was not entirely cleared, for in this same quarter was the wood in which Jonathan found wild honey, 1 Sam. xiv. 22, 25; and the battle between the armies of David and Absalom, was in the wood of Ephraim," 2 Sam. xviii. 6.

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In 1 Sam. xxii. 5, we read that David fled before Saul, and "came into the forest of Hareth," in the land of Judah. Nothing more is known of the situation of this forest.

LAKES.

or

I. NEAR the northern boundary of the Holy Land, the river Jordan passes through a small marshy lake, called, in Josh. xi. 5, "the waters of Merom," high waters, because situated higher than the other lakes of Palestine. Its water is slimy, and considered unwholesome; but it abounds in fish. The bed of this lake is never full, except in the spring of the year, when the snow melts upon Anti-Libanus. At other times, the greatest part of it is dry, and produces reeds and other shrubs, among which serpents and wild swine conceal themselves. Only the eastern shore is inhabited. The south-western shore is called Melah, that is, salt, because the soil is covered with a saline

crust.

II. Further south, the Jordan flows through another lake or inland sea, called, in some parts of Scripture,

the "Sea of Galilee,” Matt. iv. 18; John vi. 1; and· the "Sea of Gennesaret," Mark vi. 53; Luke v. 1, from the regions which surround it; in others, the "Sea of Chinnereth," or Chinneroth, Num. xxxiv. 11; Deut. iii. 17; Josh. xii. 3; and the "Sea of Tiberias," John vi. 1; xxi. 1, from cities of that name which stood upon its shores. The last-mentioned name is that which it still bears.

There is no other part of Palestine which can compare, in richness and beauty, with the borders of this lake. In ancient times, its natural advantages were heightened by cultivation. Many populous cities once stood upon its shores; such as Tiberias, Tarichæa, Bethsaida, Capernaum, Chorazin, Hippo, and many others, now in ruins. Josephus describes this region as a perfect paradise, blessed with a delicious temperature; producing the fruits of every climate under heaven, not at stated periods merely, but in endless succession throughout the year. The neglect of agriculture in later times has made it less productive; but the mildness of the climate, and the native richness of the soil, are still extolled by travellers.

The river Jordan maintains its course through the middle of the lake, and, it is said, without mingling its waters. The water of the lake is of considerable

depth, without any shallows. It is sweet and pleasant to the taste, and, compared with that of the marshy districts, very clear. It abounds in fish, which are taken with small hand-nets, managed by one man. See Luke v. 1-7; John xxi. 1-11. Peter, Andrew, James, and John, the first four disciples chosen by our Saviour, were fishermen upon the Sea of Galilee, and actually fishing when he called them, Matt. iv. 18, 22. This lake, notwithstanding its small extent, (only from twelve to fifteen miles long by six to nine miles broad,) is very stormy; a circumstance owing, probably, to the high hills by which it is surrounded. See Matt. viii. 23-27; Mark iv. 35-41; Luke viii. 22-25.

III. About seventy miles to the south of the Sea of

Galilee, the Jordan terminates its course in one of the most extraordinary lakes in the world, called in Scripture the "Salt Sea," Gen. xiv. 3; Num. xxxiv. 12, from the nature of its waters; the "Sea of the plain,' Deut. iv. 49; and the "East Sea," from its geographical position, Ezek. xlvii. 18; Joel ii. 20, By the Greeks it was called Asphaltites, from the great quantity of bituminous matter which it produces. It is commonly, however, called the Dead Sea, from the fact long believed, and confirmed by recent observations, that no animal lives in its waters, and no vegetable on its shores. The Arabs call it the Sea of Lot, because Lot once resided in this region, Gen. xiii. 12.

The space now occupied by the Dead Sea was once a fruitful and well-watered plain, called the "vale of Siddim," in or near which stood the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which God destroyed on account of the wickedness of their inhabitants, Gen. xiii. 10; xix. 24, 25. The shores of this sea are entirely destitute of verdure.

The "valley of Salt," at the southern extremity, has been already mentioned. On the west it is encircled with rocky barren heights. The water is clear and bright, but saturated with salt. The stones on the margin of the lake are all covered with a saline crust, and a piece of wood thrown into it is soon coated with the same. No fish inhabit the waters of this sea, those which enter from the tributary streams perish; and it excoriates, or takes off the skin of all who bathe or swim in it. In allusion to these extraordinary facts, the prophet Ezekiel, (xlvii. 8—10,) in predicting the future renovation of the face of nature, expresses the great change that shall take place by declaring, that the wilderness adjoining the Dead Sea should become a fruitful field. The peculiar composition of the water of this lake causes substances to float upon its surface which would sink in other water. The bottom of the lake is composed of a black slime, offensive to the smell when stirred.

According to the Arabs who reside in the vicinity, there is no perceptible variation in the height of the water at different times.

The Dead Sea has apparently no outlet. Some have supposed that it communicates by subterraneous channels with the Mediterranean, others that it flows into the Red Sea. But doubtless it loses its waters by evaporation; thick clouds are often seen hanging over it, which do not extend beyond the water's edge. This lake produces asphaltos, a bituminous or pitchy substance, in great abundance, though not at all times. It is found in large cakes, often more than a foot thick, floating upon the surface.

IV. We learn from Jeremiah, (xlviii. 32,) that the vines of Sibmah reached "even to the Sea of Jazer." Jazer was a city of the Ammonites, not far from Philadelphia, (see p. 52,) whose ruins are still visible, and some ponds, but no lake of any size.

RIVERS AND BROOKS.

This

I. THE most considerable river in the Holy Land, the only one that deserves the name, is the Jordan, which flows through the whole length of the country, in a straight line from north to south. Its true source is in a rocky basin, 120 paces in circumference, called by the Greeks Phiala, or the bowl, supplied by three unfailing springs. This reservoir communicates by a subterraneous passage, with a grotto north of Cesarea Philippi, from which flows the brook Banias. stream uniting with the Dan and the Hasbega, brooks which rise near the foot of Mount Hermon, form the Jordan. The river flows on in a narrow channel for some distance, till it enters and passes through the marshy lake, called in Scripture the "Waters of Merom;" a few miles to the south of which there is a stone bridge of four arches, called the "Bridge of the Sons of Jacob," (see p. 41.) At this spot, according to the tradition of the country, Jacob passed over Jordan, on his return from Mesopotamia, Gen. xxxii. 10. A few miles

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