Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small]

POOLS OF RAS EL 'AIN.

279

and ally of the wise king. These vast masses of tufaceous deposit bear convincing evidence of extreme antiquity. They mark the line of the aqueduct which connected this lowest birkeh with the canal which led the water from the other two northward over the plain. It must have taken hundreds, if not thousands of years, to deposit such hills of tufa, and yet this canal itself has been entirely broken away for centuries, no one knows how many. The supposition that Alexander built these pools can not be maintained with any probability. He was here too short a time, and in no mood of mind to benefit or adorn the place with such noble cisterns. They are much more ancient than his day. I have the impression that the old aqueduct, which we shall trace out on our return along the upper edge of the plain northward to that fine Tell called Mashûk, describes the circuit, in that direction, of the ancient city in its largest extent. In the mean while, you observe that this most seaward cistern is octagonal, about eighty feet in diameter, and twenty deep. This large volume of water is now of no farther use than to drive those mills attached to its walls, after which it flows down directly into the sea. Anciently, however, it was connected with the great canal which carried the water of all three birkehs to the city and over the plain. The other two cisterns are some twenty rods farther east, and close together.

These fountains rise from the bottom of this shallow vale, which descends toward the sea. The geological cause I suppose to be the obtrusion here of a thick formation of that unstratified sandstone which abounds all along this coast. The water, descending from the eastern mountains, meets at this point with this formation, and is compelled to rise to the surface to find a passage to the sea. These pools were built around the separate fountains to elevate the water sufficiently high to irrigate the plain, and it might be raised still higher, I presume, if there was any occasion to

These two are not so large as the one below, and the water of both is not equal to that alone. The upper of these is fifty-two feet by forty-seven, and twelve deep, and the other fifty-two by thirty-six, and sixteen deep; and the channel connecting them is forty-three feet long. The water enters the canal from the second, and is carried over the whole plain northward to Tell M’ashûk, and in ancient days to the city itself. At present, however, as there is no need of irrigation, it passes out by three separate channels, and drives as many mills. From the upper one, also, the water is let into the aqueduct, which crosses the wady southward on that row of arches. This is not a very ancient work; and, indeed, the birkeh itself seems more modern than the other two. The walls of the second birkeh

do so.

in thickness from twenty-three to twelve feet, and much of the heavy casing-stone has been carried away. Still, it will stand for thousands of years to come, if not purposely destroyed. The water is largely impregnated with lime and earthy mat

vary

[graphic][merged small]

CABUL-KING HIRAM.

281

ter, and is called thukîl (heavy) by the Arabs. It is considered unhealthy, and the locality hereabouts is so to a proverb; nevertheless, it is a beautiful place, and might be made a very paradise were it not for this single difficulty. But Eden itself, with ague and jaundice, would be a miserable bode. These fine geese and ducks, however, are more than contented with it; and to see any thing so truly American, so clean, and so happy, is quite worth the ride here from the city.

Where is the district of Cabul, which Solomon gave to Hiram in return for his cedar and fir trees out of Lebanon ?

The account of this matter in 1 Kings ix. 11–13 is remarkable, and reads like an addition to the history by a later hand. Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee, and, as they did not please him, he called the land Cabûl unto this day. What day? that on which the record was made, I suppose. These twenty cities were mere villages, of course, and it is a genuine Eastern trick to dignify a small present with a pompous name. And so the remonstrance of Hiram with Solomon is very natural, “ What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother ?" and then he fastens upon the gift a name of contempt, Cabûl, vile or displeasing, a mode of expressing and of perpetuating dissatisfaction eminently Oriental. Josephus says that these cities were not far from Tyre, but this throws very little light on the locality. There is a village in Wady Shaghûr, east of Acre, bearing this very name. This may have been the largest, and the other nineteen were probably small places immediately adjacent to, and dependent upon it. Cabûl certainly belonged to Galilee, and this is the only place in that district bearing that name. This identification seems to make the dominion of Hiram extend southward at least to Acre; nor is this unlikely, for the sea-coast was never in actual possession of the Jews. And so Hiram must have ruled over Lebanon above Sidon, and even much farther north, for the cedar and fir which he furnished to David and Solomon grew on the mountains east and northeast of Sidon. We may safely conclude that at that early day Tyre

« PreviousContinue »