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of water* continually rushing into the lake (which besides being the receptacle of the Jordan, is also that of several other mountain torrents), without any sensible rising on its part, an enquiry naturally suggests itself, where does it find its discharge? Some writers have been inclined to suspect, that it has a hidden communication with the Mediterranean, but as we know of no such issue, we are left to suppose it is carried off by evaporation.† l was long doubted also by what medium the waters of the Jordan were discharged previous to the formation of the Dead Sea; but the recent discoveries of Burckhardt have led to the supposition that they were carried into the Red Sea through its eastern gulf. Its ancient bed, now filled up with drifted sand, is traceable in this direction in its whole extent.§ At the point where it now mingles its waters with those of the Dead Sea, the Jordan may be about fifty yards across.
From hence, following the right bank of the
Dr. Shaw calculated that it discharges daily into the Dead Sea, 6,090,000 tons of water.
See Halley, etc.
S See Appendix, No. 11.
stream, which is overshadowed by willows and other shrubs, marking out its course, at the same time almost concealing its waters from view, in about one hour we arrived at the place where it takes a sudden turn to the westward. At this point it is not more than twenty yards across, and as the banks on either side gradually slope to the river, which is here comparatively shallow (being only four feet deep), it is presumed that this was one of the common "fords" or passages, often mentioned in Scripture, and perhaps the very one lying "right against Jericho," and leading to Bethabara* beyond Jordan, where, after the temptation of our Lord, St. John administered the sacred rite of baptism. Tradition points it out as the spot where the Israelites marched over Jordan on their first entrance into the promised land, and the precise place where our Saviour was baptised by St. John.† The word Bethabara is said to mean in Hebrew." the place of passing over." I believe there is no mention of bridges in Scripture.
The spot chosen by the Greeks is some miles to the southward. At the period of Easter many thousand pilgrims, chiefly of the latter faith, come down to the Jordan to bathe, under the protection of the Mutzelim or Governor of Jerusalem and a strong military force.
Here we dismounted and prepared for a second bath. This we did with the more alacrity and pleasure, as being anxious to rid ourselves of the saline particles which had adhered to our skin, and mingled with our hair, by bathing in the Dead Sea. Those amongst our party, whose skin was excoriated by recent exposure to the sun, suffered severely from its smarting effects. In endeavouring to wade across, the bed of the river being pebbly, and the current extremely rapid, I could with difficulty maintain myself on my legs. Those who attempted to swim, (and there were some expert swimmers amongst us,) could not long struggle against its violence, but were carried down the stream, and only extricated themselves by catching hold of the boughs which overhang its banks. The water of the Jordan, which is rather warm than cold, at this part of its course, is of a whitish sulphurous colour, but free from any taste or smell. The discolouration, nevertheless, does not appear when put into a glass.-There is apparently a double bank to this river, the lower or immediate one its present boundary, is at this moment (August), six or eight feet above the level
of the water. The upper line of bank is at some little distance (perhaps a furlong) from the lower one. The intervening space is filled up with a natural forest of tamarisks, willows, oleanders, and other shrubs. In this entangled thicket, termed the pride of Jordan," near the cooling stream, remote from the habitation of men, several kinds of wild animals are said to repose as formerly, though no longer disturbed by the swellings of the river.* We suppose by these were meant ounces, not uncommon in Palestine, wolves, and jackalls. But these we did not fear. What we really dreaded was an attack from Arabs, for whom this is quite as good a covert as for wild beasts. We expected to see them rise up from behind every bush that we passed. In the days of Joshua, the Jordan overflowed all its banks, a circumstance which is not known to occur at present, at all events not annually. If the outer bank really marks out the ancient elevation during the rainy season, or the melting of the snow on the
This circumstance gave occasion to the beautiful allusion of the prophet." He shall come up like a lion from the swellings of Jordan against the habitations of the strong." (Jer. xlix. 19.)
summits of Lebanon, it is difficult to account for the decrease of the supply of water, unless we suppose that it has worn its channel deeper, or found some other issue. It is still, however, the largest river of Palestine.* It rises a few miles N.E. of Paneas, (better known under its subsequent name of Cæsarea Philipi) at the foot of Mount Hermon, a branch of the Anti-Libanus. Its apparent source flows from beneath a cave at the foot of a precipice in the sides of which are several niches with Greek inscriptions. During several hours of its course, it continues to be a small insignificant rivulet. Crossing the bogs and fens of the lake Merom, subsequently called Samochonitis, after a course of fifteen miles, it passes under the city of Julias, the ancient Bethsaida; it then expands into a beautiful sheet of water, the lake Tiberias, anciently Genesareth, and, after a winding
Although rivers are frequently mentioned in the Sacred Writings, yet, strictly speaking, the only river in the Holy Land is the Jordan, which is sometimes designated as “the river," without any addition, as is also the Nile, (Gen. xli. 1. Ex. i. 22.-ii. 5.-iv. 9.-vii. 18. and viii. 3. 9. 11., and occasionally the Euphrates as in Jer. xi. 18. In these cases, the tenor of the discourse must determine which is the river actually intended by the sacred writers.