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February 15th. What snow-capped peak is that which appears beyond these nearest mountains ?
That is the very head of old Hermon. You have been out among Sarepta's ruins, I perceive, for from these only is the point you mention visible. But few travelers see it, nor would you, if it had not been covered with fresh snow, and lit up by the rising sun.
These sights and names make me realize with delightful certainty that I am actually within the Holy Land.
However that may be, it is nearly certain that our blessed Lord once walked over this very plain, and gazed on those identical hills. I have the impression that it was to Sarepta he came, in the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, to visit, perhaps, the place where his great forerunner, Elijah, lived and wrought miracles; and that the woman of Canaan, whom Mark calls a Syro-Phænician, belonged to the city of that poor widow with whom the prophet resided. He raised her son from death. The Saviour delivered this one's daughter from the power of the devil.
This small village on the hill to our left, called Sarafend, is the modern representative of Sarepta. It seems to have been built there after the twelfth century, for at the time of the Crusades the city stood on the shore. Of course the widow's cave, and all other ancient sites now shown under the hill of Sarafend, are apocryphal.
Those who merely ride along the common road form too low an estimate of the size of the ancient city. There are two distinct groups of ruins. One on the headland, immediately west of this, 'Ain el Kūnterah. This may have been the harbor of Sarepta ; and here, I suppose, was the fortress which Phocas mentions in the twelfth century, and also the chapel erected over the reputed house of the widow. Some of those old foundations which we have just examined may mark the exact spot. Our translation makes
3 1 Kings xvii. 17-23.
i Matt. xv. 21.
2 Mark vii. 26.
Elijah live in a loft, but not very accurately. In Hebrew it is 'allîyeh, and this is the common Arabic word for the upper rooms of houses. This 'allîyeh is the most desirable part of the establishment, is best fitted up, and is still given to guests who are to be treated with honor. The women and servants live below, and their apartment is called ardîyeh, or ground floor, in common parlance simply beit or house. The poorer sort have no 'allîyeh. We may infer several things from this word: that the mode of building in Elijah's time, and the custom of giving the 'allîyeh to the guest were the same as now; also, that this widow woman was not originally among the very poorest classes, but that
her extreme destitution was owing to the dreadful famine which then prevailed. The little chamber made for Elijah by the Shunamiteis also called 'allîyeh, and was therefore an upper room, respectable and comfortable. They are more retired than the lower apartments of the house, and, of course, appropriate for the resting-place of prophets.
The main ruins of Sarepta extend southward for a mile or more, and are very considerable. They are now being dug over, perhaps the twentieth time, for stone to build the barracks at Beirût. Observe what masses of rubbish are heaped up over the plain, among which appear broken columns, marble slabs, sarcophagi, and other relics of a flourishing and wealthy city. That dome, surmounting the tomb of Khỏdr Abu Abbas, is supposed by Dr. Robinson to be
? 2 Kings iv. 10.
the successor of the Christian chapel built by the Crusaders, and this may be so, though Khůdr is the Moslem name of St. George, for which somewhat fabulous saint the Mohammedans have very great respect.
One ought not to pass away from this remarkable spot without laying up in his inner heart the noble lesson taught by the widow and her barrel of meal. In her utmost want -about to cook her last morsel and die—she yet listens to the call of humanity, brings water for the thirsty prophet, and shares with him her final meal. Go and do likewise. In hours of greatest darkness and destitution, share with those more needy than yourself, and let the morrow take thought for itself. Who does not often need the lesson to prompt his reluctant soul to deeds of charity, and the result to fortify his feeble faith? How many poor Gentile sinners have urged the plea of the Syro-Phoenician woman for the crumbs of mercy which fall from their Lord's table, and have been dismissed with the like benediction.
Lonely and lowly Sarepta! scene of stupendous miracles, fare thee well! The Saviour of the world has set his seal of immortality on thee. Thy name will ever teach the great truth that the favor of our common Father above was never confined within the narrow limits of Jacob's seed; for unto no city of all the tribes of Israel was Elijah sent, but unto a poor widow within thy walls.2. Let them of the
synagogue” be “filled with wrath,” but we shall cherish thy memory all the more for the sweet lesson.
This low, flat Tell, with its ruined khan, is called Khaizeran, and so is the brawling brook south of it. The plain, and rocky hill side are covered with the remains of a large place, and on the very top of that rugged promontory are ancient sarcophagi, cut in the live rock, and the base of the mountain between it and Sarafend abounds in old quarries, with their accompanying houses for the dead. This fine plain before us reaches to the cave and tombs of 'Adlûn, some three miles ahead. The ruins about the cave are identified with the Ornithon of the Greek geographers, and 1 Mark vii. 24-30.
2 Luke iv. 25–29.