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plain is darkened by countless squadrons of the heathen. Confident in their numbers, they dream not of danger, when Joshua, with his valiant men of war, falls suddenly upon them. The mighty shout strikes terror into every heart. The shock is irresistible. Jabin, with his confederate kings, wakes only to join the universal rout. This vast theatre of plain and marsh, and valley and mountain, is covered with fugitives and their fierce pursuers. Those whose homes lay beyond the mountains to the north and east, sought them by the great wady of the Upper Jordan, now Wady et Teim, or out east of Hermon, in the Hauran, the land of Mizpeh. Those from the sea-coast of Acre and Carmel fled over these hills and down southwest by Hazor to MishrephothMaim,' on the north border of the plain of Acre, now called Musheirifeh. Thence they dispersed to their homes along the sea-board as far south as Dor. Joshua himself chased a third division along the base of our mountain northward, past Abel Beth Maacah, through the plain of Ijon, down the tremendous gorge of the Litany to the ford at Tamrah, or the bridge at the Khătweh, and thence over the wooded spurs of Jebel Rihan toward great Zidon, behind whose lofty walls the flying host could alone find safety. Returning southward, he recrossed the Litany, stormed Hazor, the capital of King Jabin, and utterly consumed the city with fire.? The shapeless ruins may still be seen a few miles west of us, with the identical name, and having a celebrated mazar, cred to Joshua, the son of Nun. The curtain drops over the burning capital.
And now it rises once more, revealing a scene of dark treachery and cruel slaughter. See that band of daring Danites creeping stealthily around the reedy margin of the marsh toward Laish. Will no one sound the alarm ? Alas! the indolent, luxurious, demoralized citizens slumber in fatal security, soothed by the murmurs of their magnificent fountain. And now the mound is gained, the walls scaled, the gates burst open, the city on fire, and men, women, and children fall in indiscriminate butchery. There is no help-no
1 Josh. xi. 8.
? Josh. xi. 13.
PEOPLE OF LAISH-SHEBA, SON OF BICHRI.
323 mercy. They are far from their parent city, Sidon-have no business with any body, no friends, no allies. The foul work over, the murderous band sit down in quiet possession, rebuild, and call the city Dan, after the father of their tribe. Henceforth it is famous as the boundary on the north of the Promised Land, and from “Dan to Beersheba” becomes the proverbial limit of Israel's inheritance.?
I read this tragedy with feelings of indignation and abhorrence. True, these Phoenician dwellers in Laish were every way ripe for destruction. They were lazy, dwelling carelessly, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure. They had nothing to do. They had no business with any one. They had no government and no moral character. There was no magistrate in the land that might put them to shame in any thing. They deserve little commiseration, no doubt, but then these Danites were thieves and robbers, “ bitter and angry fellows,” ready to run upon and murder poor Micah, whom they had plundered of his property. They were also traitors to their religion and the God of their fathers. Immediately they set up the graven image stolen from Micah; and the golden calves of Dan became a snare to all Israel, until they were carried captive by Shalmaneser, and placed in Halah and in Habor, by the River Gozan.' Dan has ceased to be a city for ages. Not one solitary habitation is there. The fountain still pours forth its river of delicious water, but herds of black buffaloes wash and wallow in its crystal pools. You can not even examine the site with satisfaction, so dense is the jungle of briers, thorns, and thistles which have overspread it.
One more act, and our play is ended. A man of Belial -Sheba, the son of Bichri—blew a trumpet, and said, To your tents, O Israel. We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse. David was ex tremely disturbed at this rebellion of the son of Bichri, and Joab, the bloody murderer but mighty captain, was sent in pursuit of him through all the tribes of Israel; and he came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-Maacah. There it is, on that long oval mound to the northeast of us. I have repeatedly ridden round it, and stood on the top, trying to realize the scene. Taking advantage of an oblong knoll of natural rock that rises above the surrounding plain, the original inhabitants raised a high mound sufficiently large for their city. With a deep “trench” and strong wall, it must have been almost impregnable. The country on every side is most lovely, well watered, and very fertile. The Derdâra, from Ijon, falls from that plain by a succession of cataracts, and glides swiftly along the western declivity of the mound, and from the neighboring mountain gushes out the powerful stream of Ruahîny. Such fountains and brooks would convert any part of this country into a paradise of fruits and flowers, and such, no doubt, was Abel, when she was called "a mother in Israel." But the iron hoof of war tramples all in the dust. The besiegers cast up a mount against the city, and it stood in the trench, and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall to throw it down. Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear! hear! Say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither, that I may speak with thee. And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, Art thou Joab? and he answered I am he. Then she said, Hear the words of thy handmaid; and he answered, I do hear. Then she spoke, saying, They were wont to speak in old times, saying, they shall surely ask counsel at Abel, and so they ended the matter. I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel. Thou seekest to destroy a city, and a mother in Israel. Why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the Lord ? And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me to swallow up or destroy. The matter is not so; but a man of Mount Ephraim, Sheba, the son of Bichri, by name, hath lifted up his hand against the king, even against David; deliver him only, and I will depart from the city. And the woman said, His head shall be thrown to thee over the wall. Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom, and they cut off the head of Sheba, the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab; and he blew a
' Judg. xviii. 28. 2 1 Sam. iii. 20. 3 Judg. xviii. 7 4 Judg. xviii. 22-25. 5 2 Kings xvii. 6. 6 2 Sam. xx. 1.
ABEL- PRESENT CONDITION.
trumpet, and they retired from the city, every one to his tent, and Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king. Thus ends the last act of our tragedy. The curtain falls, and we must retire to our tent, as did the host of Joab.
I trust you will not be greatly scandalized, but, fascinated with the theatre and the stage, I have been a very heedless listener to your Biblical tragedy.
I am not at all surprised. The first time I gazed upon this scene I should have felt any thing an impertinence that disturbed the pleasing trance. But seek not a closer acquaintance. 'Tis distance lends enchantment. Abel itself is a sad example of the utter decay and ruin that has “swallowed up the inheritance of the Lord.” The present village, far from being a mother in Israel, occupies only a small portion of the mound, and wisdom and counsel will be sought in vain at the hands of the peasants who lounge in rags and filth upon the dunghills which barricade their streets and doors. And now the green hills of Naphtali are casting their shadows over the lovely Hûleh as the sun sinks to rest in the distant sea, and we must hasten to our camp under Hunîn.
I 2 Sam. xx. 15-22.
March 3d. I have been out examining this castle and its surroundings. The view from some of the towers over the Hûleh and the eastern mountains is very grand. What place do you suppose it may have been in olden time?
Many years ago I thought it might mark the site of Hazor, but since then have discovered that place, as I believe, a few miles back in the interior; and, on the whole, I have been inclined of late to identify it with Beth Maacah. The small province of which this city was the capital is associated in the Bible with Abel, and must have extended round the head of this great marsh to the vicinity of Hunîn, for Abel is just below it. Dr. Robinson makes this Beth Rehob; but Dan, which is Tell el Kâdy, is said to be in the valley that lieth by Beth Rehob, and this more naturally points to Banias, as you will see hereafter. It is difficult to believe that either of the Rehobs given to Ashur was at this place, for Hunîn is in the territory of Naphtali. Dan, however, and the plain around it, including Banias, seems to have belonged to Sidon, and that city, with its territory, was assigned to Ashur. If Banias, therefore, is Beth Rehob, it might have been given to Ashur in the original distribution, but it never was really in their possession; for we know from Judges i. 31 that they could not subdue it. So doubtful, however, is the location of these cities, that, if Rehob be Hunîn, I should place Beth Maacah at Banias, and vice versa.
This castle has a very imposing appearance from the plain below, owing to its position, and the round towers which defend the southern portion of it. These are, however, comparatively modern. The only part really ancient is the north end, which is about three hundred feet square, and surrounded by a fosse cut in the solid rock, forty feet wide and twenty deep. The original wall was built of large beveled stone after the Phoenician manner, and bound together