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REV. LOUIS J. MENDELIS
114 W. SARATOGA STREET
BALTIMORE 1, MARYLAND
BIÂRAH, OR IRRIGATED GARDEN.
and riding horses wilder than themselves. We stepped into a shop to let them pass.
Yes; and if I had not pushed you suddenly into a recess, you would have had an awkward adventure with that string of loaded camels.
My attention was attracted, for the moment, by a family of young pups, lying, with their mother, in the middle of the narrow street, in imminent danger of being crushed to death, when those camels were fairly upon me ere I was aware of their approach, for their soft, spongy feet give no warning to the wayfarer.
Dogs are too numerous in these streets to call for special sympathy; and you will soon learn to let them alone, if they will do the same by you. But both they and the camels are very Biblical animals, and we shall have frequent occasion to refer to them. At present, let us pass out of the city through this open space, in front of what was once Jaffa's only gate.
The crowd is more dense, noisy, and picturesque here than within the city. What tempting groups for the pencil or the brush of the artist and the photographer's camera !
We shall have opportunity hereafter to contemplate them at our leisure; therefore, we will continue our walk to the biârah that has been placed at our disposal by an old friend, who delights in acts of Oriental hospitality.
What is a biarah ?
It is the local name for an enclosed garden, planted with orange and other fruit-bearing trees, and irrigated with water from a well or bîr. The name is very appropriate, since every tree, and bush, and flower in the biârah depends for its very life upon the water from the bîr. You will soon become familiar with this and other matters connected with these delightful gardens, for here we are at the entrance to our own.
This is indeed refreshing; and the sudden transition from the discomforts of the ship to this quiet and fragrant garden reminds one of the enchanting scenes in the Arabian Nights.
I am glad you find our quarters so agreeable. Make the most of them while the illusion lasts, for you will be disenchanted only too soon.
So I have been told by others; but I will not allow such admonitions to chill the fervor of present enjoyment, or to cast a shadow on the bright promise of the future. You must not expect me to forget all at once that I am actually in Joppa, and for the first time. Joppa! The mere name is a romance.
Oldest of cities ! Sidon of the north,
To whose poetic inspiration you are indebted for these lines I know not; but they contain a pretty fair résumé of Jaffa's claims to historic celebrity, which we may expand for a little on the lower level of ordinary prose.
Jaffa is in reality one of the oldest cities in the world. It was given to Dan in the distribution of the land by Joshua, and it has been known to history ever since. It owes its existence to the low ledge of rocks which extends into the sea from the extremity of the little cape on which the city stands, and forms a small harbor. Insignificant as it is, and insecure, yet there being no other on all this coast, it was sufficient to cause a city to spring up around it even in the earliest times, and to sustain its life through numberless changes of dynasties, races, and religions, down to the present hour. It was, in fact, the only harbor of any notoriety possessed by the Jews throughout the greater part of their national existence. To it the timber for both the temples of Jerusalem was brought from Lebanon; and no doubt a lucrative trade in cedar and pine was always carried on through it with the nations who had possession of that goodly mountain. Through it, also, nearly all the foreign commerce of the Jews was conducted, until the artificial port of Cæsarea was built by Herod. Hither Jonah came to find a ship
MYTHICAL FABLES AND AUTHENTIC STORY.
in which to flee from the presence of the Lord, and from it he sailed for Tarshish.
By-the-bye, do you think there is any foundation for the idea of Reland and others, that the story about Andromeda and Perseus originated from some confused account of Jonah and the whale, which had reached the Greeks through the sailors of Tarshish ?
Possibly; and it is certainly curious that Pliny, after alluding to the story of Andromeda, says that M. Scaurus, among other wonderful relics, showed the bones of a wild beast brought, during his ædileship, to Rome from Joppa, a walled town of Judæa. The length was forty feet, the elevation of the ribs greater than the height of an Indian elephant, and the thickness of the skin was a foot and a half! This may well have been a whale, if not the identical one in whose belly Jonah passed three days. The fact, also, that in the mythical fable of Perseus and Andromeda the name Iapolis occurs as that of a city connected with the same, strongly favors the original identity of the stories. But Jaffa has a history not made up of fables, and, alas ! for the most part, written in blood. Scarcely any other town has been so often overthrown, sacked, pillaged, burned, and rebuilt. It would be tedious to enter into the minute detail of these disasters, and they may be gathered from the Bible, the books of the Maccabees, Josephus, the Greek and Roman historians, Eusebius, Jerome, and others of the fathers, and from the chronicles of the Crusades in the Gesta Dei per Francos. In our day it has acquired an unhappy notoriety in connection with Bonaparte, the plague, and the poisoning of his sick soldiers. I myself . was shut up within it for forty days in 1834, while it was besieged by the mountaineers in revolt against Ibrahim Pasha. Mr. Anutun Murad, our consul at the time, told me that the present city was then not a hundred years old. In consequence of the pirates who infested this coast during the early life of his father, Jaffa was entirely deserted, and the inhabitants retired to Ramleh and Ludd. He himself remembered when there was only a single guard-house, occupied by a few soldiers, who gave notice to the merchants in Ramleh when a ship arrived. With this agrees the account of the desolation of Tyre at the same period and from the same cause. Such facts reveal the wretched state of the country during those