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HULEH AND ITS SURROUNDINGS.
muleteers go on and pitch the tent, while we turn up to this ruin on our right, called Mănârâh. Step out now upon this rocky platform, and enjoy at your leisure and in silence a panorama more beautiful and as vast as that which Moses saw from the top of Pisgah.
Well! I have never seen any prospect to equal that.
presume not. The declivity sinks beneath our feet down-down, sheer down fifteen hundred feet and more, to the plain of the Hûleh, and when you can withdraw your gaze from this scene of utmost loveliness, turn to that which surrounds it. Lofty Lebanon stretches northward to the snowy summit of Sūnnîn, which looks down on Colo-Syria and the ruins of Baalbek. Before us Hermon lifts his head to heaven in solemn and solitary majesty. Those sugar-loaf hills on that vast plateau to the east and southeast are so many landmarks in the misty and mysterious Hauran, with the Great Desert of Arabia behind and beyond. Those shadowy lines that bound the hazy horizon to the south are Gilead and Bashan, the territories of old Sihon and Og, kings of the Amorites. On our right are the mountains of the Galilees and Samaria, while behind us the hills of Naphtali and Asher sink, by successive terraces, down to the sea-coast of Acre, Tyre, and Sidon. What countless thoughts cluster around such a group of things and names as this !
Not to confuse the mind with dim distances and immeasurable magnitudes, let us study, a while this noble vale beneath us. It is the basin of the Jordan, the birth-place of that sacred river in which the Son of God was baptized. During the rainy months of winter it receives a hundred little tributaries from those snowy ravines around the north end of Hermon. From thence it cuts its way through dark beds of lava, some twenty miles, to the great fountain of Fuarr, below Hasbeiya, which is its most distant permanent source. With the name of Hasbāny it passes southward to this plain and marsh of the Hûleh, receiving on its way
the stream from Shib'ah, the great fountain of Sureîd, beneath Kefr Shûb'ah, and the Luisany at El Ghŭjar. Thus augmented, it penetrates the marsh about five miles, when it is joined by the Leddan, from Tell el Kady, and the Baniasy, from Banias, united a short half mile north of the Tell called Sheikh Yusûf. Of these main branches of the Jordan, the Hasbāny is the longest by forty miles, the Leddan is much the largest, and the Baniasy the most beautiful. Besides these, a considerable stream comes from the plain of Ijon, the joint contribution of the Derdarah and Ruahîny, west of Abel. Several immense fountains also burst out along the base of this mountain on which we are standing, and send their streams through the marsh to the river and the lake. The largest are those of Blât and El Mellahah. The lake itself may be eight miles long, and six broad across the north end, but it runs to a point southward, where the Jordan leaves it. This is the Merom of Joshua, the Samechonitis of the Greeks, the Hûleh of the Arabs. The plain and marsh above it are about ten miles square. The eastern half is sufficiently dry for cultivation, and is, in fact, the great granary of the surrounding country, and the boast of the Arabs. The climate is warm, the soil fat as that of Egypt, and the whole is irrigated by innumerable canals from the Hasbāny, the Leddan, and the Baniasy.
In the centre rises the Leddan, at the base of that circular mound which you can trace by the line of trees around its outer margin. It marks the site of the Sidonian Laish, the Dan of the Bible. Often have I sat under its great oak, and gazed in dreamy delight upon the luxuriant plain of the Hûleh. No wonder the spies exclaimed, We have seen the land, and, behold, it is very good : a place where there is no want of any thing that is in the earth.
We have spread out before us one of the great battlefields of the Bible—a vast theatre built by the Architect of the universe, and upon its splendid stage has many a bloody tragedy been played out in downright earnest. In the opening scene the chief actor is no less a personage than the " Father of the Faithful,” scattering to the winds those hard-named confederates who conquered Sodom, and carried away righteous Lot, with his family, captive. Abraham was
Judg. xviii, 9, 10.
ABRAHAM'S BATTLE AT DAN.
sitting in his tent door, under the great oak of Mamre, when a fugitive from the vale of Siddim brought the tidings of his nephew's captivity. This was no time for rending of garments and fruitless lamentations. Arming his own servants—three hundred and eighteen—and sending a hasty summons to Mamre, and his brothers Escol and Aner, to join him, he set off in hot pursuit. Passing Bethlehem and Salem, he swept over the mountains and along the plains of Sychar and Esdraelon, and at the close of the fourth day (Josephus says he attacked them on the fifth night) he was probably climbing these hills of Naphtali. From these bold headlands he could see with perfect distinctness the enemy carousing in careless security around the fountain of Leddan. Having made the necessary dispositions for the attack, he waits for the veil of darkness; then, like an avalanche from the mountains, he bursts upon the sleeping host. The panic is immediate and universal, the confusion inextricable, the rout wild and ruinous. No one knows friend from foe. They trample down and slay each other, are swamped in miry canals, and entangled and torn to pieces in the thorny jungles of the Baniasy. Terror lends wings to the fugitives. They climb Castle Hill, rush along the vale of Yafûry, and, descending to the great plain by Beit Jenn, cease not their frantic flight until they reach Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. Abraham returns victorious to Laish, which is Dan; the captives are released, and the goods collected. None have perished; nothing is lost. In triumph, and with devout thanksgiving, he, who through faith waxed valiant in battle,2 marches back by Jerusalem to his tent on the plain of Mamre. Thus falls the curtain on the first act.
When it is again lifted the theatre is crowded with a mighty host. The Canaanite from the east and the west, the Amorite, the Hittite, and the Jebusite from the mountains, and the Hivite under Hermon-much people, even as the sand that is on the sea-shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many. Far as the eye can reach, the
3 Josh. xi. 1-5.
i Gen. xiv. 15.
2 Heb. xi. 34.