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PAINTINGS AT THEBES.-TOWER OF BABEL.
in existence is almost infinite, connected with sites and structures reaching back at least to the times of the Hebrews, and may well be considered as the fruit of and witnesses to their bitter bondage.
The entire process of brick manufacture has been portrayed on the monuments, including the “ taskmasters,” whip in hand, overseeing the laborers; and though in no instance can the figures portrayed be pronounced with certainty to be those of Hebrews, yet they may be, and these life-like pictures singularly illustrate and confirm the narrative in the fifth chapter of Exodus. Wilkinson says, “To meet with Hebrews in the sculptures cannot reasonably be expected, since the remains in that part of Egypt where they lived have not been preserved; but it is curious to discover other foreign captives occupied in the same manner, overlooked by similar 'taskmasters,' and performing the very same labors as the Israelites described in the Bible; and no one can look at the paintings at Thebes representing brickmakers without a feeling of the highest interest." And those who cannot look upon the original paintings of Thebes may, for a few shillings, purchase Wilkinson's “Ancient Egyptians," which contains a very passable copy of these paintings, with a vast amount of valuable information on this and all other matters Egyptian.
Brickmaking is an art older than authentic history, and was and is still practised by all nations. The earliest mention of it is in the eleventh chapter of Genesis; the scene is in the valley of the Euphrates; and the purpose was to "build a city, and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven.” These builders of Babel had slime-that is, bitumen- for mortar; and their bricks were thoroughly burnt, as stated in Genesis, and as can be seen in numerous specimens brought from the ruins of Babylon. In this country, as in Egypt, crude unburnt bricks were generally employed, especially in building the humble habitations of the peasants on such plains as this of Philistia. It would be easy to dig through houses built of these soft bricks, as did Ezekiel when enacting the signs of captivity before the people.'
Or as robbers and other bad men, bent on evil errands, did in Job's day. The fact is that these houses are ephemeral, insecure, | Ezek. xii. 5.
? Job xxiv. 16.
and every way uncomfortable; low, filthy, and earthy, without light or ventilation, all huddled together; no privacy of any kind possible; no relief from incessant noise from man and beast; no shelter from a burning sun; no escape from clouds of dust; in a word, they are dens of wretchedness and endless discomfort. The natives, however, seem insensible to these annoyances, and are measurably happy. They have, also, some wise and good institutions amongst them. One is the public well, where the water is raised by the sâkieh, at the common cost and for common use. The one near my tent at el Mesmîyeh had four stout mules allotted to it, and was kept in motion night and day. The well was about one hundred and twenty feet deep, and the water cool, sweet, and inexhaustible.
RUINED BARRACK ON THE SHORE.
ASHDOD TO GAZA.
From Esdûd to the Sea-shore.-Mounds of Drift-sand.-Ruined Barrack on the Shore.
Direct Route to Gaza.- Villages along the Road.--Hamâmeh.- Approach to Askelon. -Character of the Site.-Ruins.-Orchards.-Celebrated Fruits and Plants.-Ancient Walls and Towers.—Remarkable Sycamore.—Ride to the Shore.- From Gaza to Askelon by Night.—'Ain ’Askúlân.—Remains of Ancient Temple.-Broken Pottery.Derceto.-Worship of the Goddess.-Fish-worship.-Massive Sea-wall. — Ancient Harbor.-Breakwater.-Columns and Foundations of Temples.- Biblical and Historical References to Askelon.—Herod the Great.-Occupation of Askelon by Richard of England.-Modern Askelon, el Jûrah.--Askelon to Gaza.—Mejdel.–Villages on the Plain.— Wady Simsim.—Jebala.—Gaza.- Population.-Sites of Ancient Gates.— Tomb of Samson.—Hârât, Wards.-Site of Ancient Gaza.-Disintegration of Old Buildingstone.—Mosk, Deir Hanna.–Sea Visible from Gaza.—Landing for Boats. Majuma, Ancient Harbor.-Wells.-Commerce.--Antiquity and Vicissitudes of Gaza. — Biblical Notices of Gaza.—Samson at Gaza.-Overthrow of Dagon's Temple.—Hand-mills at Gaza.—Burning of the Philistines' Corn.—The Three Hundred Foxes.-Curse pronounced upon the Serpent.–Fiery Flying Serpents.-Winged Serpents on the Monuments of Egypt.—Brazen Serpent.
April 15th. YESTERDAY'S sirocco has died away during the night, but we can well endure the loss.
" The tears live in an onion that should water this sorrow.”
Fortunately for us, it has subsided into a soft south-west wind, without rain, giving us a bright morning and the prospect of an agreeable day. Continuing our pilgrimage, we might pass directly west over these sandy waves to the shore, and follow the pebbly, or, rather, shelly, beach to Askelon; but this would prolong our ride through deep sand for several hours. Nor are there any antiquities along that route worth visiting. The only building between this and the sea is a ruined structure, which may have been a barrack for the coast-guard or a watch-tower; and near it must have been her harbor, if Ashdod ever had such a convenience. I carefully examined
the shore for indications of an ancient haven, but could find none. Captain Warren was not more successful. In his report he says: “I went from here [Esdûd] to the sea-beach, a distance of three miles, in search of any remains of the ancient city; but nothing could I see but endless mounds of drift-sand, over which we stumbled ankledeep. On the shore itself are the ruins of a rectangular barrack of sandstone, similar to the walls of Askelon, and about the third of the distance on the road to Jaffa. It probably was a station connecting the two cities; it measures about one hundred and twenty by fifty feet, with semicircular flanking towers at each angle, and two on either side. No ancient pottery or glass was observed about, but there were a few broken bottles of modern construction, which looked as if they had once held beer!"
There is nothing in all this that could repay us for a weary ride over such monotonous sand-hills.
Certainly not, and therefore we will follow for several miles the ordinary route to Gaza, and even that will lead us over some of the most advanced waves of the coming sand deluge.
The first village on our left is Beit Dârâs, the next is Jûlis, both of them agricultural towns, prettily situated on the rolling plain. We shall now turn off the regular road to Gaza, which keeps more inland, and proceed to Askelon by that village called Hamâmeh, which is six miles from Esdûd, and, like it, seems just about to be overwhelmed with sand. It is a thriving place, however, and has traces of an antiquity even more prosperous. By the direct line over the sand-hills it is three miles to Askelon from Hamâmeh, but much farther if we follow the regular road. Let us take the former, not because it is the nearest, but because there is something sadly appropriate in thus approaching Philistia's buried capital over such swells and ridges of barren sand. Gardens, orchards, and olivegroves are being swallowed up by this irresistible sand deluge. The modern village called el Jûrah is a little north of the site of old Askelon, and those of its houses which are not made of sun-dried bricks are built out of the fragments of prostrate ruins. It will take us two hours to examine them even hastily, and I give you fair warning that the ramble will be very fatiguing. Salîm is to wait for us under the venerable sycamore-tree, not far from a Mos