« السابقةمتابعة »
gather to the scene, and what hallowed memories will ever cluster around it! In the morning early, I was awakened by the sound of singing, and hastened to attend high mass of the Armenians in the Grotto of the Nativity. It consisted of chanting by priests and small boys, bearing lighted candles, bowing, crossing, prostrations and kissing of the pavement by the pilgrims—similar ceremonies, though even more corrupt than the Catholic church; and as I stood by and witnessed this heartless worship, I could not but breathe forth the prayer that the time might speedily come when the gospel in its simplicity and purity will prevail in all the lands and languages of the Orient.
"What a cloud of darkness will roll away and a weight of ignorance and superstition be removed, when the day shall dawn and the day-star arise anew in the East.
"Returning thence, we were served with a comfortable breakfast by a Latin monk, and then set out upon our journey to Hebron. The country around Bethlehem is beautiful and well cultivated. The soil is fertile, and the hillsides and valleys are covered with olives, figs, pomegranates and terraced vineyards, which afford a picturesque view in the morning sunlight. In one hour we reached the pools of Solomon. They are situated upon a sloping hillside that forms the entrance of a valley winding eastward toward Jerusalem, and
are immense in extent. They consist of three grand and deep basins walled with square stones and lined with cement, while the bottom is formed of the natural rock. The whole is so arranged that the stream from each flows into that below, and the lower pool is connected with a strongly built aqueduct that conducts to Jerusalem and the cisterns of Solomon's temple. A large fountain of four springs continually supplies them with pure and living water. It is indeed a splendid work considering the age in which it was constructed, and remains almost entire unto the present day.
POOLS OF SOLOMON.
"The pools were probably connected with pleasure grounds and a country palace of Solomon built upon this site. As he himself relates in Ecclesiastes: 'I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards; I made me gardens and orchards; I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruit. I made me pools of water to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees."
"Josephus also doubtless alludes to these pools in the following passage:-'There was a certain place about fifty furlongs distant from Jerusalem, which is called Etham. Very pleasant it is in fine gardens and abounding in rivulets of water. Thither did he (Solomon) use to go out in the morning, sitting on high in his chariot.' In their full and pristine beauty, surrounded by houses,
VALLEY OF ESHCOL.
vineyards, gardens, orchards and fruit trees, they must have been truly magnificent beyond description. Our path now winds over a rough rocky road, and barren, desolate country, though bearing evidence of former cultivation. We pass two ancient wells and tombs cut in the rocks by the wayside, and then come to a beautiful valley planted with vines carefully terraced upon the hillsides and filled with lodges and watchtowers to guard them in the season of vintage. This is the valley of Eshcol. And these luxuriant vineyards apparently still produce clusters of grapes equal to that which the spies 'cut down and bare between two upon a staff' unto Moses and Aaron, at Kadesh, in the wilderness of Paran, when they returned from searching out the land. Pomegranates, figs, and olives, also abound in this fertile valley at the present day.
"Just beyond, commanding a lovely view of the plain in front, is Hebron, called by the Arabs ElKhulil, 'the Friend,' marking it as the dwellingplace of Abraham, 'the Friend of God.' There is perhaps no city in Palestine so rich in ancient Scripture history as Hebron. Here the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, lived and walked with God: and here with their wives by their side, they all lie buried in the cave of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan. Here Abram when he
separated from Lot 'removed his tent and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord.' 'And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God, walk before me and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram; but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant; to be a God unto thee and thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger; all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.'
"And the Lord appeared again unto Abraham 'in the plains of Mamre, as he sat in the tentdoor in the heat of the day,' and announced to him the birth of his son Isaac, in his old age, in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed. Here also Abraham pleaded with the Lord to save the guilty cities of the plain from destruction, and not to slay the righteous with the wicked, until God promised that if peradventure ten righteous were found therein, he would not destroy it.
'And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord; and he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld and lo! the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.' In Hebron also Isaac long dwelt, and Jacob, after his years of service in Padan Aram, 'came unto Isaac his father, unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.' From hence he went down with his sons unto Pharaoh in Egypt, and became a great nation, and when Jacob was about 'to be gathered to his fathers' he commanded his sons saying, 'Bury me with my fathers, in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan; there they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah. And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them. And Joseph went up to bury his father, and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt.' A grand funeral procession across the sands of the desert to bury the embalmed body of the aged patriarch in the land where his fathers dwelt and died and were buried.
"Hebron likewise became the capital of David's kingdom, where he reigned seven and a half years