« PreviousContinue »
TELL JEZER, ANCIENT GEZER.
time is to obtain from you such an explanation of the surrounding country as will enable me to connect the various sites and scenes which the eye rests upon with their Biblical histories.
Scarcely could one find in all Palestine such another stand-point, from whence the view is so extensive or more suggestive.
Yon village, two hours east of us, on the regular road to Jerusalem, is Kubâb, and that low and broad tell south of it is called Tell Jezer. The tomb of Sheikh Muhammed el Jezair, or Abu Shûsheh, is just visible over the swell in the plain, and also the dwelling-house recently built by Mr. Bergheim of Jerusalem, who has purchased the tell and its surrounding fields, some five thousand acres, and is rapidly transforming it into a fine farm. If it proves a permanent pecuniary success, it will be the only speculation of the kind that I have known in this country, during a residence of over forty years, that has thus rewarded its possessor. But, apart from my personal interest in its energetic owner, Tell Jezer has recently attracted extraordinary attention as the site of the long-lost Gezer. Dr. Sandreczki, Dr. Chaplin, M. Ganneau, and Lieutenant Conder have thoroughly examined and ventilated its claims, and they appear to entertain no doubt about the identification. The position corresponds quite well with some of the Biblical indications, as in Joshua xvi. 3, and i Kings ix. 16, 17; and more especially with the numerous places where it is mentioned in i Maccabees, which imply that it was south of Emmaus towards Azotus. But if it formed a point in the border of Ephraim, as stated in Joshua xvi. 3, the territory of that tribe extended much farther south than has been generally supposed. In Maccabees the name is always spelled Gazera, at least in English, and I have never been able to examine the original. Again, I have always imagined that the Gezer whose king came to assist Lachish against Joshua was many miles farther south. So, also, it seems strange to find a Canaanitish city up here in the very heart of the country so late as the reign of Solomon; and yet such must have been the case, if this is the Gezer that Pharaoh captured and presented to his daughter, the wife of Solomon.' Neither would one naturally
'1 Macc. iv. 15; vii. 45; ix. 52 ; xiv. 34 ; xv. 28, 35; xvi. 1, 19, 21.
i Kings ix, 16.
look in this direction for that Gezer to which David pursued the routed Philistines after the battle of the mulberry-trees, somewhere south of Jerusalem. It is curious, too, that in the Onomasticon Gezer is said to be four miles north of Emmaus, Nicopolis, whereas, if this Tell Jezer be the place intended, it is full that distance west of it.
The identification of this site by M. Ganneau excited peculiar interest at the time, and he thus writes about the discovery:
" This, as I may almost call it, accidental discovery, which I announced at the time to the Académie des Inscriptions et Belleslettres, and which was received with some incredulity, met with a most unexpected confirmation four years afterwards, in 1874, when, on visiting the spot in the service of the Palestine Exploration Fund, I discovered at Abu Shûsheh, in the exact locality I had fixed upon as the site of Gezer, bilingual inscriptions in Greek and Hebrew deeply carved upon the rock, with the Biblical name of Gezer written in full, and repeated twice; and marking, without doubt, the priestly limit or sabbatical zone which surrounded the place.” M. Ganneau may well be pardoned the high satisfaction which he expresses in this fortunate discovery. So far as I know, this is the only bilingual inscription ever found in Palestine. On the whole, I think the officers of the Palestine Exploration Fund have satisfactorily proved that this tell marks the site of Gezer, which was allotted to the Levites of the Kohathite family, as mentioned in Joshua xxi. 21. And herein consists the chief interest in the identification. The careful and learned discussions by which this result is reached can be found in the publications of the Palestine Exploration Fund. Lieutenant Conder, while examining the site, found no less than twenty-three wine-presses, some of them very perfect. He also discovered many other indications of a large ancient city, including rock-cut tombs - a fact not altogether in accord with the sanctity of a Levitical city.
Where is Modin, so celebrated in the Maccabees and in Jose.. phus ?
During my rambles over this region in former years I made many and fruitless inquiries about the seven pyramids which Simon
2 Sam. v. 25.
TOMBS OF THE MACCABEES.-MODIN.-GIMZO.
erected over the sepulchres of his parents and his brethren at Modin. The author of the Maccabees tells us that Simon “set great pillars about the monument, and upon the pillars he made all their armor for a perpetual memory, and by the armor ships carved, that they might be seen of all that sail on the sea. This is the sepulchre which he made at Modin, and it standeth yet unto this day.” Josephus, who wrote some two hundred years later, testifies that the monument still stood in his day. But pyramids and pillars, and all the “cunning devices" about and upon them, have long since disappeared. I had been led, by the topographical indications in the different narratives, to look for Modin and its monuments at or near Lâtrôn, but Dr. Sandreczki and the officers of the Palestine Exploration Fund believe they have discovered the long-lost site at a village called el Medyeh, on the hill-side eastwards of Ludd. Lieutenant Conder has given a minute description of the site and the existing remains. But if his conclusions as to dimensions, and especially as to the height of the pyramids—nine or ten feet-be correct, one of two results seems inevitable: either this is not the true site, or the descriptions both in Maccabees and in Josephus are extravagant exaggerations.
Lieutenant Conder states that indications of the seven sepulchres exist. The group bears the local name of Kubûr el Yehûdgraves of the Jews. The pyramid over the sepulchres he supposes to have stood upon an elevated platform eighty feet square, enclosed by a very strong outer wall, and that platform and pyramid together had an elevation of only sixteen cubits; still, “ from the position, it could not fail to be conspicuous from the whole extent of the sea-shore, visible from about the latitude of Mukhâlid far down towards Gaza."
From this plain of Sharon there are two main roads over the mountains to Jerusalem, one from Ludd and the other from Ramleh by Wady ’Aly. As we do not take either of them, this is the spot from which to point out the places of special interest along and about'them. From Ludd the shortest and most unfrequented path leads down into a wady, which it partly follows for three miles to a place called Jimzu, no doubt the Gimzo reconquered by the
1 1 Macc. xiii. 27-30.
Philistines in the days of Ahab.' On the north of Jimzu is a large tell covered with rubbish, and now named Duhiêry. The road keeps up the valley to the eastwards called Wady Zakarîya, Zechariah, and in it are some caverns and old foundations, marking an ancient site, which also bears the name of that prophet. Berfilya is in Wady Suleimân, south-east of Jimzu, and a road passes up this valley to el Jib. About an hour and a half above Jimzu is Beit 'Úr et Tahta, Lower Beth-horon; and it is just another hour to Beit 'Úr el Fôka, Upper Beth-horon; steep climbing over an extremely rough road. On one occasion I went to Jerusalem from Ludd, and, being alone, I wandered out of the way above Upper Beth-horon; and, after a rough scramble through a wild region, I came to a partially ruined village called Kefîr. This is probably the Chephira of the Gibeonites. A company of woodcutters gave me the name, and their occupation reminded me of the curse laid upon the four cities that “did work wilily" to beguile Joshua into "a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them." If the place be Chephira, then the sites of all those four cities are known: Gibeon is el Jib, Beeroth is el Bîreh, south of Bethel, and Kirjath-jearim is Kuryet el 'Enab. The confederate host that attacked Gibeon, , and was defeated by Joshua, fled down the valley past Beth-horon, thence across Merj Ibn 'Omier, probably the valley of Ajalon, where that leader of Israel, looking back towards Gibeon and down upon the noble valley before him, uttered the celebrated command: "Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon." His victorious army “chased them along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah." These places are all still found, and in exact agreement with the account of the great victory, as given in the tenth chapter of Joshua.
What a cluster of Biblical sites this tower of Ramleh gathers about it! No one can hear the names of the places, and contemplate the scenes there enacted, without feeling assured that he is indeed in the Land of the Bible.
A very just remark; but we must suspend our survey, and de2 Chron. xxviii. 18. ? Josh. ix. 4, 15. 3 Josh. x. 12. 4 Josh. x. 10.