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Fertility of Palestine.



Fertility of Palestine.

(Concluded from page 197.)


§ XIV. Mount Libanus contributes much to the fer

tility of Palestine. We must not suppose that Palestine has as much rain as our region ; still there is enough to render the earth fruits ful: and mount Libanus contributes much to the fertility. For in the Spring, when the snows of this mountain melt, the river Jordan is swelled, and overflows the land, thereby rendering it fertile. Libanus is three leagues distant from Tripoli, in the lower part of which the fountain of gardens (Cant. iv. 15,) has its rise. This fountain appears small at its source, but within a small space it so increases, as to make a large river in the plain of Tripoli, and by it the gardens are watered. Between Velena and the sea of Galilee there is a valley, into which the Jordan runs when the snows of Libanus melt in the spring, and a collection of water takes place in the valley, which in the Scriptures is called the Waters of Merom. This is the place where Joshua fought with Jabin and twentyfour other kings, and obtaining the victory, pursued them even to the waters of Masserephot. So we read in the xi. chap. of Jos. Joshua and all his army with him, went

* La Roque's Voyage de Syric et du Mont Libanus, p. 66, 186.

out against these kings at the Waters of Meron, and rushed upon them, and the Lord delivered them to him. Which collection of waters, in the heat of summer for the most part dries up, and trees and herbs, like a wood, grow so thickly, that lions, bears, and other wild animals, conceal themselves there, according to Saligniac, Brectenbach, Cotovicus, and others. Pliny* says, the river Jordan arises from the fountain Panias ;t it is a pleasant stream, and its current is swift. It runs into the lake Asphaltites, where it mingles its sweet waters with the impure water of the lake. Solinus says the same thing, and affirms that Judea has excellent water : and of all its streams, the river Jordan has the sweetest water. It descends from the fountain Panias, passes through a very pleasant country, and is lost in the corrupt water of the lake Asphaltites.

With regard to the size of the river Jordan, there are various opinions and different representations. Some assert that it is very broad, others that it is narrow. These different opinions arise from its having been visited at different seasons of the year. For in the months of September and October, the rivers of Palestine are neither deep nor rapid ; but on the contrary, very small and languid in their course. Let us produce the authority of some of the authors. Belloniust affirms, that the river Jordan, which runs from north to south, is so narrow that a boy can throw a stone across it ; nor is the channel sufficiently deep for a ship to sail in it. Schultz& reckons the depth of the Jordan to be five or six cubits, and its breadth such, that he who would throw a stone across it, must use all his

* Hist. Nat. lib. v. cap. 15.

+ Stephanus, in his Epitome de Urbibus, says, Paneas is a cave of Palestine, whence flows the Jordan. Josephus, Antiq. Jud. lib. xii. and de Bello Jud. lib. ii. c. 16, says, Paneas is a very pleasant cave in the mountain, and it contains a cavity full of stagnant water. In this cave the Jordan has its source,

+ Observat. lib. i. cap. 86.
$ Leitungen des Höchsten auf seinen Reisen, &c. T. v. p. 90.

strength. Pococke and Shaw* have presented us with the most accurate description. The latter affirms that the breadth of the Jordan is ninety feet, and its depth at the very shore nine feet. Pococke-asserts, that its breadth is equal to that of the Thames of England at Windsor, but its rapidity is much greater. The Thames is there one Italic mile wide.. And this I suppose to be the general width of the Jordan, although I would not deny that it may be wider, when the snows of Libanus are melting and flowing into it.

Tuis lofty mountain, Libanus, is never entirely free from snow.

Some assert the contrary, but the testimony of Tacitust is to the point. And Maundrell corroborates his testimony, where he says that he travelled for six hours through the snow on mount Libanus, in the month of May. He was then far from the highest top of the mountain, and yet he found abundance of snow. Phillippus a Sancta Trinitatef states, that in October he saw the remains of the snow in Libanus; but in the end of November, the whole mountain was white with snow. From which circumstance, this mountain is called by the Samaritans and Chaldeans, xahn 7109, that is, the Mountain of Snow. The Arabians call it by the same name. Jonathan, in the Chaldee Paraphrase, $ says, that Libanus is never without snow. There is, therefore, snow at all times on Libanus, and the heat of the sun can never overcome the cold of its lofty tops. The prophet Jeremiah has said the same thing, xviii. 14. This is a very difficult place, on which the commentators have expended much labour and sweat, and formed very different opinions. Let us attempt to make this very obscure place more clear. The

* Pococke's description of the East, Vol. ii. P. i. p. 69. Shaw's Travels, &c. p. 373. + Histor. lib. v. cap. 6.

# In Itinerario, lib. iii. cap. 2. $ Ad Deut. ix. 1,

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