« PreviousContinue »
Naphtali, though. what one it is impossible to determine. The Beg informed me that Jezzar Pasha of Acre destroyed this castle, broke down the wall, and filled up the ditch, which ran quite round the Tell. He did the same to Hûnîn, and, indeed, to all the castles in these mountains, and killed or expelled the native chiefs. If the Butcher had done nothing worse, he would have deserved praise rather than cen
After his death, however, the feudal lords returned more greedy and tyrannical than ever.
The present head of the house of Aly es Sughîr pretends that his ancestors were made governors of Belad Bsharah by the great Saladin himself. This may be fairly doubted, though I do not know when they actually rose to power in the country.
Shall we call on this governor in the castle ?
Two years ago I spent the night there with my
MEDIATORS-RECEPTION AT TIBNIN.
family, and that will last me all my life. I had no intention of doing such a foolish thing then, but began to pitch the tents in some threshing-floors which overlook the wady on the north of the castle. The Beg had seen us pass, and dispatched a messenger to invite us to his palace. I sent an apology. . Then came a deputation “more honorable,” his .secretary and a near relative, with a note from the Beg, urging the invitation so earnestly that I felt obliged to comply. This sending honorable princes to press the request remind
. ed me at the time of the way in which Balak overcame the real or pretended reluctance of Balaam. He sent again princes more and more honorable than they; and they said to him, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me. This is a very ancient and very common custom. Every thing is done by mediation. Thus the centurion sent unto Jesus elders, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. In a hundred instances I have been pressed and annoyed by these mediating embassadors. Their importunity takes no denial. To save ourselves from such a siege, we will keep quite clear of the castle, and go on about half an hour to a well at the bottom of that wady east of us, and there take our lunch. In the mean time I will give you an account of that visit, as the cheapest way into the interior of a Metāwely governor's palace.
The old Beg received me with the utmost politeness, descended from his divan, kissed me on both cheeks, and insisted on my sharing his elevated seat. To the best of my knowledge, it was the first time I ever saw him, but he insisted that he had been at my house in Beirût some fifteen years before, and that I had done him a very important service by speaking a word in his behalf in the right quar
may have been so; at any rate, he was as kind as he knew how to be-gave me a Metāwely dinner, and kept me up till late, talking about all sorts of topics before a full diyan of his relatives and retainers, and then had my bed spread on the same divan. According to court etiquette at Tibnîn, the ladies of my party had their own apartment, and, 1 Numb. xxii. 15, 16.
2 Luke vii. 3. VOL. 1.-O
after being served with dinner, they called on the great sit, or lady of the Beg, whose apartments were in another section of the castle. It would be tedious to detail all they saw and heard; but they were much pleased with some of the “ harem," who appeared modest, lady-like, and pretty. Others, however, were coarse and ill-bred enough.
I was greatly disappointed in the Beg. His conversation was incessant, loud, and often utterly absurd. We fell at last into a rambling and useless discussion about religion, in which Mohammed's character and prophetic claims were handled rudely enough, to the great scandal of the dervishes present; and at midnight I was glad to break up the divan and try to sleep-no easy task, or, rather, it was impossible. The visitors had filled the divan with fleas, and the wind, which began to blow hard before we left our tents, proved to be one of those siroccos which make all sorts of vermin doubly active and man excessively nervous. The whole night was passed in fruitless skirmishes with these contemptible enemies, and the suffocating wind whistled and piped most doleful tunes through every chink and cranny of the old castle. The ladies had fared even worse than myself, and the morning found us dejected, headachy, and quite discouraged. Having with difficulty achieved a breakfast, in the midst of confusion which reminded me of Scott's Highland stories, we took a guide from the Beg and started for Hunîn, where we expect to get to-night.
I shall never forget the experience of that dismal night, nor the charming ride of that day through these romantic wadies of old Naphtali. We filled our water-bottles at these very
wells where we are now quietly taking lunch, and then rode over that hill east of us. Beyond it our guide turned suddenly to the left down a shallow ravine, but one that deepened every moment, until we were completely shut in between lofty walls of gray rock. Deeper and deeper into the bowels of the earth we dived for more than an hour, to where two other wadies joined ours-one from the south, the other from the east. The three in one trend off toward the north, and, under the name of Hajeîr, descend to
WADY HAJEIR-SITES AND SCENES.
the Litany at Jisr K'ak’aîyeh. The one from the south passes by an ancient castle called Dubay, about which nothing need be, and very little can be said. We took the eastern ravine, called Hûla (from a village at the head of it)strange, wild, romantic. For miles the path was literally roofed over with a dense canopy of trees and bushes, forming, with the bed of the brook whose windings we had to follow, a sort of tunnel wholly peculiar. We were often obliged to lie flat on the necks of our horses, and be drawn through this verdant vault by main force. At the end of two hours we emerged from this labyrinth, and climbed a steep and lofty hill to the village of Hûla—the same name, nearly, as that of the lake below Hunîn. We intended to rest a while there; but such a mob of rude Metāwelies, of every age and sex, beset us, clamorous to see the seigniorât -as they call Frank ladies—that we were compelled to decamp immediately, and, after another hour's pleasant ride, we pitched our tents among the oaks, olives, and terebinths on the western margin of the vale of Hunîn.
And now, lunch over, let us ride, and to the southeast for half an hour, to avoid the wady in which our story has been entangled. We are passing through the very heart of Naphtali, wild and savage, just fitted to be the home of that warlike tribe. No European, and but very few native travelers, ever venture along this desolate road. We shall soon get down to an old guard-house called Beer en Nŭkkar, erected for the protection of the traveler through this dangerous district. Off yonder to the southwest is 'Ain'ata, supposed to be the Anatha or Beth-Anath given to Naphtali, and half an hour farther south is Bint Jebail-daughter of a little mountain (to translate), and the capital of this region. To the left of us, in the woods, is a ruin with columns, and foundations of old temples, called Kŭbrîkha, and the entire neighborhood is crowded with ancient but deserted sites. A long, rocky ascent eastward now leads us to Neby Mûhaîbeeb—a celebrated saint of the Metāweliespicturesquely perched upon a bold promontory. We pass north of it on the direct road to Mais el Jebel, which is just
visible yonder to the northeast of us. Let me call your attention to this very unromantic, non-poetic pool. Every village in this region has one or more of them for their herds and flocks. In very dry seasons they entirely fail, and there are frequent allusions to such a calamity in the Bible. It is among the threatened judgments upon unbelieving Israel that the Lord will dry up all their pools.?
Do the people drink this composition of nastiness?
Many do, and all use this water for culinary and other household purposes. Nothing is more common than to see flocks and herds standing up to their bellies in these pools, and the people filling their jars in the midst of them. I have been obliged to drink it myself when of the color of soapsuds, full of living animalculæ, and with a strong smell of the barn-yard. I once gave five piastres to get a jar of good water at this Hunîn where we are to spend the night, was cheated at last, and compelled to drink this abominable decoction. The Jews of all this region must have been supplied with water in the same way. Natural fountains are very rare, nor can wells be dug with success. The ancient inhabitants, however, depended greatly upon cisterns, and there are countless numbers of them about these old sites. But the water, even in these, is filthy, and full of vermin, , unless great care be taken to keep them clean and sweet.
That is quite sufficient on this topic. There seems to be a castle here. Has the place any historic name?
Not that I know of. The castle, at least in its present form, is comparatively modern. There are traces, however, of genuine antiquity about this Mais, and I doubt not there
Jewish town here. But we must pass on to our camp-ground at Hunîn, which is still an hour and a half to the northeast of us.
How charming these hills, clothed with evergreen oaks, terebinth, and bay trees! This may
twentieth visit, and yet they appear as lovely now as on the day I first saw them. Such beauty never wearies the eye-always rejoices the heart. Let the
1 Is. xlii. 15.