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XV.

suit. Passing Bethlehem and Salem, he swept over the mountains, and along CHAPTER the plains of Sychar and Esdraelon, and at the close of the fourth day (Josephus says he attacked them on the fifth night) he was probably climbing these hills of Naphtali. From these bold headlands he could see with perfect distinctness the enemy carousing in careless security around the fountain of Leddan. Having made the necessary dispositions for the attack, he waits for the veil of darkness; then, like an avalanche from the mountains, he bursts upon the sleeping host. The panic is immediate and universal, the confusion inextricable, the rout wild and ruinous. No one knows friend from foe. They trample down and slay each other, are swamped in miry canals, and entangled and torn to pieces in the thorny jungles of the Baniasy. Terror lends wings to the fugitives. They climb Castle Hill, rush along the vale of Yafûry, and, descending to the great plain by Beit Jenn, cease not their frantic flight until they reach Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.1 Abraham returns victorious to Laish, which is Dan; the captives are released, and the goods collected. None have perished ; nothing is lost. In triumph, and with devout thanksgiving, he, who through faith waxed valiant in battle, marches back by Jerusalem to his tent on the plain of Mamre. Thus falls the curtain on the first act.

When it is again lifted, the theatre is crowded with a mighty host-the Joshua's Canaanite from the east and the west, the Amorite, the Hittite, and the Jebu- victory, site from the mountains, and the Hivite under Hermon—“ much people, even Canganas the sand that is on the sea-shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very ites many." 3

Far as the eye can reach, the plain is darkened by countless squadrons of the heathen. Confident in their numbers, they dream not of danger, when Joshua, with his valiant men of war, falls suddenly upon them. The mighty shout strikes terror into every heart. The shock is irresistible. Jabin, with his confederate kings, wakes only to join the universal rout. This vast theatre of plain and marsh, and valley and mountain, is covered with fugitives and their fierce pursuers. Those whose homes lay beyond the mountains to the north and east, sought them by the great wady of the Upper Jordan, now Wady et Tein; or out east of Hermon, in the Hauran, the land of Mizpeh. Those from the sea-coast of Acre and Carmel fled over these hills, and down south-west by Hazor to Misrephoth-Maim,4 on the north border of the plain of Acre, now called Musheirifeh. Thence they dispersed to their honies along the sea-board as far south as Dor. Joshua himself chased a third division along the base of our mountain northward, past Abel-BethMaachah, through the plain of Ijon, down the tremendous gorge of the Litany to the ford at Tamrah, or the bridge at the Khătweh, and thence over the wooded spurs of Jebel Rihan toward great Zidon, behind whose lofty walls the flying host alone could find safety. Returning southward, he recrossed the Litany, stormed Hazor, the capital of King Jabin, and utterly consumed iluzor

1 Gen. xiv, 15.

2 Heb. xi. 34.

? Josh. xi. 1-5.

+ Josh, si. 8

PART

II.

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The coiony of Danites.

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People of
Laish.

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the city with fire. The shapeless ruins may still be seen a few miles west of
is, with the identical name, and having a celebrated mazar, sacred to Joshua,
the son of Nun. The curtain drops over the burning capital.

And now it rises once more, revealing a scene of dark treachery and cruel
slaughter. See that band of daring Danites creeping stealthily around the
reedy margin of the marsh toward Laish. Will no one sound the alarm ?
Alas! the indolent, luxurious, demoralized citizens slumber in fatal security,
soothed by the murniurs of their magnificent fountain. And now the mound
is gained, the walls scaled, the gates burst open, the city on fire, and men,
women, and children fall in indiscriminate butchery. There is no help-no
mercy. They are far from their parent city, Sidon-have no business with any-
body, no friends, no allies. The foul work over, the murderous band sit down
in quiet possession, rebuild, and call the city Dan, after the father of their
tribe. Henceforth it is famous as the boundary on the north of the Promised
Land, and “ from Dan to Beersheba" becomes the proverbial limit of Israel's
inheritance.3

I read this tragedy with feelings of indignation and abhorrence. True, these Phoenician dwellers in Laish were every way ripe for destruction. They were lazy, dwelling carelessly, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure. They had nothing to do. They hau no business with any one. They had no government and no moral character. There was no magistrate in the land that might put them to shame in anything: 4 They deserve little commiseration, no doubt, but then these Davites were thieves and robbers, “ bitter and angry fellows,” ready to run upon and murier poor Micah, whom they had plundered of his property. They were also traitors to their religion and the God of their fathers. Immediately they set up the graven image stolen from Micah; and the golden calves of Dan became a snare to all Israel, until they were carried captive by Shalmaneser, and placed in IIalah and in Habor, by the River Gozan.“ Dan has ceased to be a city for ages. Not one solitary habitation is there. The fountain still pours forth its river of delicious water, but herds of black butlaloes wash and wallow in its crystal pools. You cannot even examine the site with satisfaction, so dense is the jungle of briars, thorns, and thistles which have overspread it.

One more act, and our drama is ended “ A man of Belial---Sheba, the son of Bichri—blew a trumpet, and said, To your tents, O Israel. We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse.”) David was extremely disturbed at this rebellion of the son of Bichri, and Joab, the bloody murderer, but mighty captain, was sent in pursuit of him through all the tribes of Israel; and he came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-Maachah. There it is, on that long oval mound to the north-east of us. I have repeatedly ridden round it, and stood on the top, trying to realize the scene. Taking advantage

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Insuurection of Sheba.

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I Josli. xi. 13.
8 Judges xviii. 22-25.

* Judges xviii. 7.

? Judges xviii, 28.
6 2 Kings xvii. 6.

3 1 Sam. iii, 20.
7.2 Sam. xx. 1.

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XV.

Beth-
Manchal

of an oblong knoll of natural rock that rises above the surrounding plain, the CHAPTE ? original inhabitants raised a high mound sufficiently large for their city. With a deep“ trench” and strong wall, it must have been almost impregnable. The country on every side is most lovely, well watered, and very fertile. The Derdâra, from Ijon, falls from that plain by a succession of cataracts, and glides swiftly along the western declivity of the mound, and from the neighbouring mountain gushes out the powerful stream of Ruahîny. Such fountains and brooks would convert any part of this country into a paradise of fruits and flowers; and such, no doubt, was Abel, when she was called " a mother in thel of Israel.” But the iron hoof of war tramples all in the dust. The besiegers cast up a mount against the city, “and it stood in the trench, and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down. Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither, that I may speak with thee. And when he was come near unto her, tlie woman said, Art thou Joab? and he answered, I am he. Then she said, Hear the words of thine handmaid. And he answered, I do hear. Then she spake, saying, They were wont to speak in old times, saying, They shall surely ask counsel at Abel, and so they ended the matter. I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel: thou seekest to destroy a city and in mother in Israel : why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the Lord ! And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me, to swallow up or destroy. The matter is not so; but a man of Mount Ephraim, Sheba, the son of Bichri by name, hath lifted up his hand against the king, even against David : deliver him only, and I will depart from the city. And the woman said, His head shall be thrown to thee over the wall. Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom: and they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab: and he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every one to his tent, and Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king: Thus ends the last act of our tragedy. The curtain falls, and we must retire to our tent, as did the host of Joab.

I trust you will not be greatly scandalized, but, fascivated with the theatre and the stage, I have been a very heedless listener to your tragedy.

I am not at all surprised. The first time I gazed upon this scene I should have felt anything an impertinence that disturbed the pleasing trance. But seek not a closer acquaintance. ”Tis distance lends enchantment. Abel itself is a sad example of the utter decay and ruin that has “swallowed up the inheritance of the Lord.” The present village, far from being a mother in Present Israel, occupies only a small portion of the mound; and wisdom and counsel village. will be sought in vain at the hands of the peasants who lounge in rags and filth upon the dunghills which barricade their streets and doors. And now the green hills of Naphtali are casting their shadows over the lovely Hûleh as the sun sinks to rest in the distant sea, and we must hasten to our camp under Hunîn.

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1 2 Sum xxx. 15-22.

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Hunin.

Probably Beta Maach.

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I Have been out examining this castle and its surroundings. The view from
some of the towers over the llûleh and the eastern mountains is very grand.
What place do you suppose it may have been in olden time?

Many years ago I thought it might mark the site of llazor, but since then
have discovered that place, as I believe, a few miles back in the interior; and,
on the whole, I have been inclined of late to identify it with Beth-Maachab.
The small province of which this city was the capital is associated in the Bible
with Abel, and must have extended round the head of this great marsh to the
vicinity of Hunîn, for Abel is just helow it. Dr. Robinson makes this Beth-
Rehoh; but Dan, which is Tell el Kâdly, is said to be in the valley that lieth
by Beth-Rehoh, and this more naturally points to Banias, as you will see
hereafter. It is difficult to believe that either of the Rehobs given to Asher
was at this place, for Ilunîn is in the territory of Naphtali. Dan, however,
and the plain around it, including Banias, seem to have belonged to Sidon,
and that city, with its territory, was assigned to Asher. If Banias, therefore,
is Beth-Rehob, it might have been given to Asher in the original distribution,
but it never was really in their possession; for we know from Judges i. 31 that
they could not subine it. So doubtful, however, is the location of these cities,
that, if Rehob be Ilumin, I should place Beth-Maachah at Banias, and vice

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The castle.

this

This castle has a very imposing appearance from the plain below, owing to its position, and the round towers which defend the southern portion of it. These are, however, comparatively modern. The only part really ancient is the north end, which is about three hundred feet square, and surrounded by a fosse cut in the solid rock, forty feet wide and tirenty deep. The original wall was built of large bevelled stone, after the Phænician manner, and bound together by iron cramps, as may be seen in a few places under the modern ruins.

Though we have made an early start, these farmers are in advance of us,

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Late som huy

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XI.

Ecc. xi. 6.

and are actually sowing barley at this late season of the year. Will it come to CILA PTER perfection during the brief space that remains between this and the harvest season in this country ?

It is more than possible ; but it depends entirely on the character of the coming spring. I have seen one winter, at least, when there was not enough rain to enable the farmers to sow their grain until the month of February; but then there followed an uncommonly cold and wet March. The mountains were covered, on the last day of that month, with a heavy fall of fresh snow, and by the end of April the fields were rejoicing in as rich il crop as ever gladdened the anxions busbandman. It may be thus this year, and it may not. Should the rains cease early, no reaper will fill his bosom with sheaves from these fields. These men are therefore sowing in hope in a very emphatic Sowing sense. There is, at least, an equal chance against them, and still they plough in hop". and sow on vigorously, with only this basis for their expectations.

It was upon facts such as these the wise man founded his admonition, “ In the Solomon's morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand ; for thou counsed, knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” 1 Of course, the idea is, sou early and sow late, as opportunity offers or circumstances require. And the wise farmer, in this country, must thus act ; for no human sagacity, no length of experience, will enable him to determine, in any given year, that what is sown early will prosper best. If the spring be late, wet, and cold, the early grain grows too rank, lodges, and is blasted, while the late sown yields a large harvest. This farmer tells me, in answer to my qnestion, that they will be both alike good this year, or, as he expresses it, the late will overtake the early. This may be so, but, as Solomon says, he does not know it.

These men seem about to realize the prophecy of Amos: “Beholt, the days illusion come, saith the Lord, that the ploughman shall overtake the reaper." 2 If I of Amnes. remember correctly, reaping will commence in the coming month.

Yes, in the valley of the Jordan, which is here just below us. No doubt this late ploughing and sowing suggested the terms of the prophecy, and gave an air of verisimilitnde to it. So, also, the next clause in this 13th verse, “ The treader of grapes shall overtake him that soweth seedl,” derives its significance from facts in agricultural experience. The time for the treading of grapes comes on during the dry months of antumn, and is ordinarily soon over ; but this promise implies that the vintage will be prolonged into the rainy season, when alone the husbandman can begin to sow his seed. This does not generally occur until November. In the good days of the promise, however, the vintage will be abundant and long, while the rains will be early and copious, and thus the treading of grapes will run on to the time when the fall crops are sown. This is never actually the case at present, yet, in seasons remarkably favouralile, an approximation is seen sufficiently near to justify the allusion.

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