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POOLS OF SOLOMON.
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
POOLS OF SOLOMON.
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.
"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, 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 watch-towers 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 El-Khulil, the friend,' marking it as the dwelling-place 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 tent-door 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 over Judah, and was also anointed king over all Israel. Here too he doubtless composed many of his sublime psalms, that have in all ages penetrated the soul, and lifted it from earth to heaven. How vivid and thrilling were all these sacred associations, as just before the hour of sunset we
passed through the vineyards of Eshcol, crossed the plain of Mamre, and came to the city of Hebron !
"We spent the night at the house of a Jew from Holland, who represented himself as the American consul of the place. The steps and floors were as neat as Dutch scrubbing and scouring could make them; but the fleas and other small animals were as abundant as the grapes in the valley of Eshcol in the most fruitful season. found it convenient to go out upon the house-top at night and meditate, and the view in the clear starlight of the plain, the valley, and the hills stretching far away, was beautiful indeed. There, too, I experienced a peculiar delight in holding communion and fellowship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who had here often appeared to them, and talked with them as friend talketh with his friend.
"In the morning we set out to visit the great mosque that is built over the cave of Machpelah, where the patriarchs are buried. This is regarded as one of the most undoubted localities of the Holy Land, and is also esteemed one of the holiest places by the Mohammedans, who have the highest reverence for Abraham and the patriarchs; and on this account Christians are rigorously prevented from entering it. They were formerly not even allowed to approach near the outer walls of the harem. We were, however, unmolested in examining the exterior of the edifice. The structure is exceeding massive, and has in all respects an ancient appearance. The walls are built of large stones levelled in the peculiar Jewish style, and similar to those around the court of the Mosque of Omar at Jerusalem. A number of square pillars, half imbedded in the wall, also extend around the