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remarkable when it is remembered that multitudes are either secretly or openly searching for them all over the land. We shall be annoyed in all our rambles over ruins by the suspicion, almost universal among the people, that we are "seeking for hid treasures." Hence they will watch us, follow us, and, whenever a private opportunity offers, will endeavor to enter into partnership with us in the search.
Solomon has drawn a proverb from this practice. If thou seekest her (understanding) as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasure, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. Alas! how few manifest any of this earnestness in seeking for wisdom.
Our blessed Lord also founds one of his divine parables on this same custom. The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field, the which when a man hath found he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath and buyeth that field. Many such transactions are still negotiated in secret. It is extremely difficult, and even dangerous, to remove treasure thus discovered in another person's field; but, having purchased it, you can wait in safety, work in secret, and the coveted treasure is yours.
It is not difficult to account for this hid treasure. This country has always been subject to revolutions, invasions, and calamities of various kinds, and hence a feeling of insecurity hovers over the land like a dismal spectre. The government robs, and so do the nobility and the clergy; Arabs rush in from the desert and plunder; warriors and conquerors from every part of the world sweep over the land, carrying every thing away that falls into their hands. Then there are, and always have been, intestine commotions and wars, such as laid Lebanon in ruins in 1841, and again in 1845. At such times multitudes bury their gold and jewels, and in many cases the owners are killed, and no one knows where the treasure was concealed. Then, again, this country has ever been subject to earthquakes, which bury every thing beneath her ruined cities. On the first day of 1837, Safed was thus dashed to the ground in a
! Prov. ii. 4.
2 Matt. xii. 44.
moment, house upon house down the steep mountain side, and many entire families were cut off. Some were known to have had money, and it was a shocking spectacle to see hardened wretches prowling about under the ruins, amid putrefying carcasses, in search of these treasures. The whole population from the surrounding villages, undeterred by the awful judgment which had laid their own buildings in heaps, and buried many of their families alive, rushed into Safed to dig out the entombed riches of the Jews; nor was the search in vain. The same shocking spectacle is witnessed in times of plague or cholera. People hide their money to keep it from those miscreants who take advantage of the general consternation to break into houses and rob. We need not be surprised, therefore, to find that this country abounds, and ever has abounded, in hid treasure. No custom can be found among any people so firmly rooted as this, of searching for hid treasure, without some real foundation for it. Lay this aside as a rule, which may be safely applied on all occasions and to all questions.
Let us turn now to something more interesting than this search after hid treasure. Yonder on our left is Mûgharet Tubloon, one of Sidon's most ancient cemeteries. The Phoenicians took immense trouble to secure their dead from being disturbed, but in vain, as we shall see. They first cut away the rock at Tubloon, so as to make a large surface perfectly level. This has long been the general threshingfloor for those who farm this beautiful plain; beneath it, however, are countless chambers for the dead—vast catacombs, in fact, arranged after a very peculiar fashion. A square shaft was sunk through the rock, ten, twenty, or thirty feet, according to the taste or ability of the maker. From this, doors at different depths opened into halls and rooms, around the sides of which were cut the niches for the dead.
To make assurance doubly sure, some niches were sunk in the floor of the chambers, the sarcophagi there deposited, and then the whole was leveled off, and a hard stone flooring laid on above. But even these have been discovered and rifled during the long ages of earnest search for treasure.
Two years ago, on the morning of January 20th, our city
was startled out of her ordinary quietude by the report that an extraordinary sarcophagus had been uncovered, which had a long inscription in an unknown character on the lid. All Sidon flocked to see it, and I among the rest, but with expectations very moderate. I had been disappointed too frequently to place much confidence on native reports. Judge, therefore, of my surprise and delight to find that this unknown character was Phoenician. I at once became as deeply excited as the gold-digger or treasurehunter, for I had searched in vain, during twen
ty years, for a single word in this character.
The lid of this sarcophagus is wholly peculiar, and the upper end of it is wrought into a human figure, with a countenance and costume every way remarkable. It is somewhat colossal, and the features are large and prominent. The forehead is rather low, the eyes almond-shaped, but full and protruding, the nose broad and flat, the lips very thick, like the Ethiopian or negro, the chin quite short, and the ears too. large and conspicuous for beauty. A sweet smile is spread over the countenance, and the features are expressive, and not at all disagreeable. The whole execution is decidedly superior to any thing of the kind in this country. It seems
to be the figure of a female (though this is not certain); perhaps it may stand for the ideal of Sidon’s far-famed goddess, Ashtaroth. Something depends from the chin, like a beard, but I suppose it belongs to the head-dress, which closely resembles that frequently seen on ancient Egyptian mummy
On each shoulder sits a bird, probably a dove, and the tout ensemble is striking and impressive. The lid, and consequently the figure upon it, is too wide for symmetrical beauty. It is four feet broad, and only about seven in length. The material is blue-black basalt, intensely hard, and takes and keeps an excellent polish. The inscription is in twentytwo long lines, and the letters, though never cut deep, are in perfect preservation, and as easily read as the day they were engraven. There is nothing like it in the whole compass of Phoenician remains. I sent a copy of it to Chevalier Bunsen, who immediately transmitted it to Professor Dietrich, then engaged in editing a new edition of Gesenius's learned work on the Phoenician language and antiquities. This gentleman published a translation, with an elaborate critique upon it. Other copies were sent to France, England, and America, and the learned of every land have tried their skill upon it.
Translation of the Phoenician Inscription. A somewhat free rendering of this curious record, after the French version, runs thus: “In the month Bul, in the fourteenth-xiv.—of my reign, King Ashmunazer, the King of the Sidonians, son of Tabnith, King of the Sidonians, King Ashmunazer, King of the Sidonians, spake, saying, I am snatched away before my time, like the flowing of a river. Then I have made a house for my funeral resting-place, and am lying in this sarcophagus, and in this sepulchre, the place which I have built. My prohibition to every royal person, and to every man, not to open my sepulchre, and not to seek with me treasures—for there are no treasures with me-nor to take away the sarcophagus of my funeral couch, nor to transfer me with my funeral couch upon the couch of another; and, if men command to do so, listen not to their opinion, because every royal person, and every man who shall open this funeral couch, or who shall take away the sarcophagus of this funeral couch, or who shall transfer me with the funeral couch, he shall have no funeral with the dead, nor be buried in a sepulchre, nor leave behind them son or posterity; and the holy gods, with the king that shall rule over them, shall cut off that royal person, and that man who has opened my couch, or who has abstracted this sarcophagus, and so also the pos
terity of that royal person, or of that man, whoever he be; nor shall his root be planted downward, nor his fruit spring upward; and he shall be accursed among those living under the sun, because I am to be pitied-snatched away before my time, like a flowing river. Then I have made this edifice for my funeral resting-place, for I am Ashmunazer, King of the Sidonians, son of Tabnith, King of the Sidonians, grandson of Ashmunazer, King of the Sidonians; and my mother, Immiastoreth, priestess of Astarte, our sovereign queen, daughter of King Ashmunazer, King of the Sidonians. It is we who have built this temple of the gods * * * * * in Sidon by the sea, and the heavenly powers have rendered Astarte favorable. And it is we who have erected the temple to Esmuno, and the sanctuary of Ene Dalil in the mountain. The heavenly powers have established me on the throne; and it is we who have built the temples to the gods of the Sidonians in Sidon by the sea (or maritime Sidon): the temple of Baal-Sidon, and the temple of Astarte, the glory of Baal, lords of kings who bestowed on us Dor and Joppa, and ample corn-lands which are at the root of Dan; extending the power. which I have founded, they added them to the bounds of the land, establishing them to the Sidonians forever.
“My prohibition upon every royal person, and upon every man who shall open upon me, or uncover me, or shall transfer me with this funeral couch, or take away the sarcophagus of my funeral couch; lest the holy gods desert them, and cut off that royal person, or that man, whoever he may be, and their posterity forever.”
The renderings of different savants in Europe and America vary largely, but the list of great names on the tablet can not be questioned: Baal and Ashtaroth, the gods of the Zidonians in the days of Joshua ; Dor, and Joppa, and Dan, cities and territories which Ashmunazer seems to have conquered. If this be correct, then we may find in these historic facts some hint to guide to the probable age of Ash
When was there a king of Sidon so powerful as to subdue Dor, and Joppa, and Dan? I know not; but it is plain, from the narrative of the conquest of Laish by the Danites, recorded in Judges, 18th chapter, that it then belonged to Sidon. That it ever did after that, remains to be proved. The manner in which it is described on our tablet is very accurate: “Ample corn-lands at the root of
The Hûleh spreads out from the very root of Dan (Tell el Kady), the richest grain-field that I am acquainted with in any country.
Poor Ashmunazer seems to have had the utmost horror of being disturbed, and multiplied his maledictions upon