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of this extension are found not only among the oak groves on the north and west, but also south of the brook es Sāāry, and on the plain to the east, as we shall see along our road to the Phiala. This is the extent of our excursion for today.
This lake, now called Burket Ram, is two hours nearly due east, and for the first hour, to 'Ain Kŭnyeh, the ascent is quite steep, and over vast formations of trap rock, and this whole region is of the same volcanic character down to the River Jermuk, southeast of the Lake of Tiberias. This brook, es Sāāry, has cut a deep channel in the trap rock, verifying the proverb of Job that the waters wear the stones, even the hardest of them. The country hereabouts is very fertile, and, at the proper season, clothed with luxuriant harvests. Those olive-trees which climb the steep declivities on our left, quite up to the castle, I have seen bowing to the earth under a heavy load of oily berries, and every one is delighted with the variety and beauty of wild-flowers which in spring adorn these ravines: even now they begin to appear in profusion.
This 'Ain Künyeh shows evident traces of antiquity. Is any thing known in regard to its past history?
Not that I am aware of. It was probably the country residence and health-retreat for the citizens of Cæsarea, and is, in fact, still celebrated for its good climate. There is yet another hour to the Phiala, and our path lies along the mountain side, above this noisy Sāāry. This oak wood on our right extends far south, and is a favorite resort for the flocks of those Arabs which
the western borders of the Jaulân. It is not particularly safe to explore this neighborhood, but I hear of no special danger at present; and the number of people from the lower villages who are out on the border of the forest burning and carrying coal, is a pretty certain indication that we can go to the lake without interruption. It is a wild and lawless region, however, and I never stay at Phiala longer than is necessary for my purpose. We must here cross the Sāāry at this mazar, called Mesâdy. The brook comes down from the southern extremity of Jebel es Sheikh, and across that plain of Yafûry on our left, so named from a saint, whose white-domed mazar is seen on the edge of it, about a mile north of Phiala. And here is the lake itself, round like a bowl, motionless as a molten mirror, but alive with frogs, ducks, and hawks. We must guide our horses carefully along the rim of this strange volcanic basin to some slope sufficiently gradual to allow us to descend to the water.
i Job xiv. 19.
There is an air of mysterious solitude and desolation quite oppressive about this mountain lake.
Shall we ride round it?
That we shall know better after we get back. I have never made the circuit, and am not quite sure we shall find a practicable track all the way.
Large parts of its surface are covered with a sort of seaweed, and upon it, and all round the margin,
“These loud-piping frogs make the marshes to ring.” It seems to be the very metropolis of frogdom.
Yes, and upon this grass feed countless millions of leeches. The Phiala, in fact, has long furnished the chief supply of that insatiable mother, whose two daughters ever cry Give, give! Solomon says so.
What are those large hawks after? They swoop down like a bolt from the clouds, just graze the surface, and rebound, as it were, again to the sky.
Don't you see how the frogs hush their clamor and dive under when this their great enemy makes a descent in their vicinity ? My muleteer shot one of them on a former visit, which fell into the lake near the shore, and he attempted to wade in for it, but got entangled in this interminable grass, and we were glad to get him back in safety. Without a boat it is impossible to explore the lake to any considerable distance from the shore.
| Prov. xxx. 15.
PHIALA NOT THE SOURCE OF THE BANIASY.
believe that this water covers the bottom of an extinct crater?
It resembles one in all respects, and is like nothing else that I know of. This Phiala has neither inlet nor outlet; that is, no stream runs into it, and none leaves it. There must be large fountains, however, beneath the surface, for the evaporation in this hot climate is very rapid, and yet the lake is equally full at all times, or so nearly so as to sanction the native accounts to that effect.
What think you of the opinion of Josephus, that this is the more distant source of the fountain at Banias?
And that Philip proved the fact by casting chaff into the Phiala, which came out at Banias? I don't believe it, and I wish it were the only absurd thing to be found in his history. He thinks it worth while to mention a tradition that the fountain of Capernaum (probably that of Tabigah) comes from the Nile, because it produces fish similar to the coracinus of the lake near Alexandria. The Moslems about Tyre will assure you that Ras el 'Ain comes from the same river, and there are many other such stories equally absurd. In regard to this Phiala, it is impossible, from the geological construction of this region, that its waters could flow down to Banias. Then, also, this water is dark-colored and insipid, and abounds in leeches, while the Banias has none of them—is bright as sunlight, and deliciously cool and sweet. And still more to the point is the fact that the river which gushes out at Banias would exhaust this lake in forty-eight hours. And now we have made the circuit in fifty-five minutes; the lake is, therefore, full three miles in circumference. I had judged it to be at least that, merely from appearance. Our next point is the castle of Banias, and the path leads over the mountain to the northwest. This large village on our right is Mejdel es Shems, inhabited by Druses, a fierce, warlike race, sufficiently numerous to keep the Bedawîn Arabs at a respectful distance. We may stop in safety under these splendid oaks to rest and lunch.
This is certainly the finest grove of the kind I have seen. A solemn stillness reigns within it; and what a soft, relig