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river runs in a straight course through marsh, and lakes, and sinking plain quite down to the dark and bitter sea in which it is finally lost. Dan and the Dead Sea—the cradle and the grave—the birth-place and the bourne! Men build monuments and rear altars at them, and thither go in pilgrimage from generation to generation. Thus it has been and will ever be. It is a law of our nature. We ourselves are witnesses to its power, drawn from the distant New World to this lonely spot, where the young Jordan leaps into life, by an influence kindred to that which led the ancients to build temples over it.
The young Jordan! type of this strange life of ours ! Bright and beautiful in its cradle, laughing its merry morning away through the flowery fields of the Hûleh; plunging, with the recklessness of youth, into the tangled brakes and muddy marshes of Merom; hurrying thence, full grown, like earnest manhood with its noisy and bustling activities, it subsides at length into life's sober midday in the placid lake of Gennesaret. When it goes forth again, it is down the inevitable proclivity of old age, sinking deeper and deeper, in spite of doublings and windings innumerable, until finally lost in the bitter sea of death, that melancholy bourne from which there is neither escape nor return.
But surely the Jordan can teach other and happier lessons than these. It speaks to me and to all mankind of forgiveness of sin, of regeneration by the Spirit of God, and of a resurrection to everlasting bliss. Must this dear type of life and immortality be swallowed up forever by the Dead Sea ? Far from it. That is but the Jordan's highway to heav
Purified from every gross and earthly alloy, it is called back to the skies by the all-attracting sun, emblem of that other resurrection, when Christ shall come in the clouds, and all the holy angels with him. May we be thus drawn from earth to heaven by the mighty attraction of that glorious Sun of Righteousness!
More than three thousand years ago a vast and mingled host encamped on the eastern bank of this river. There
was the mailed warrior with sword and shield, and the aged patriarch trembling on his staff. Anxious mothers and timid maidens were there, and helpless infants of a day old. And there, too, were flocks and herds, and all the possessions of a great nation migrating westward in search of a home. Over against them lay their promised inheritance,
“ While Jordan rolled between,”
full to the brim, and overflowing all its banks. Nevertheless, through it lies their road, and God commands the march. The priests take up the sacred ark, and bear it boldly down to the brink; when, lo! the waters which came from above stood and rose up upon a heap very far from the city Adam, which is beside Zaretan; and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. And thus, too, has all-conquering faith carried ten thousand times ten thousand of God's people in triumph through the Jordan of death to the Canaan of eternal rest.
660, could we make our doubts remove
Those gloomy doubts that rise-
With unbeclouded eyes;
Should fright us from the shore.”
I shall not soon forget this birth-place of the Jordan, nor the lessons which it can teach so well. But it is time we were prosecuting our long ride.
As we pass round this singular mound, you see that it resembles the rim of a crater. The fountain rises among those briers and bushes in the centre—at least that portion of it does which passes by this ancient oak, and drives these mills below it. Most of the water, however, glides through the volcanic wall, at the northwest corner of the Tell, into the pool beneath those wild fig-trees. If this be really the mouth of an extinct crater, it is probable that the water from the slopes of Hermon, following the line of the inclined strata,
Josh. iii. 16.
met, far below, this obtrusion of trap, and, being cut off by it, rose to the surface in this volcanic shaft or chimney. At any rate, it first appears in the centre of the mound, and, of course, old Dan had an inexhaustible supply of excellent water within her walls.
I see very little evidence of the ancient city, unless the houses were built out of this shapeless lava over which we have been stumbling.
No doubt they were, in the main; and as basalt never disintegrates in this climate, we have them before our eyes just as they were three thousand years ago. Limestone exposed melts back to dust in a few generations. I was once here, however, when men were quarrying well-cut limestone from the rubbish on the north side of the Tell. Dan never became an important place after Benhadad smote it, nearly a thousand years before Christ. When Tiglath Pileser took Ijon, and Abel, and all this region, some two hundred years later, this place is not even mentioned. It may have sunk, by that time, to an unimportant village, known merely as a mazar, sacred to religious purposes.
This pool is crowded with buffaloes; and how oddly they look, with nothing but the nose above water!
Yes; and observe that their mouths are all turned up stream toward the fountain, and on a level with the surface, as if, like Job's behemoth, they trust that they can draw up Jordan into their mouths.3
Do you suppose that the buffalo is the behemoth of the Bible?
It is not easy to adjust Job's magnificent description in all the details to the buffalo, yet I am inclined to believe that these black, hairless brutes are the modern, though immensely belittled representative of that chief of the ways of God, who eateth straw like an ox, who lieth under the shady trees in the covert of the reeds and fens. The shady trees cover him with their shadow, the willows of the brook compass him about.* All these particulars are exact enough, Kings xv. 20.
2 Kings xv. 29. 3 Job xl. 15-23.
4 Job xl. 15, 21, 23.
and, indeed, apply to no other known animal that can be associated with the Jordan. Large herds of buffaloes lie under the covert of the reeds and willows of the
brooks which creep through this vast marsh, and we shall see them all day, as we ride round it, wallowing in the mire like gigantic swine. They are larger than other cattle of this region. Some of the bulls are indeed rough and monstrous fellows, with bones black, and hard “like bars of iron.” With the aid of a little Oriental hyperbole I can work up these buffaloes into very tolerable behemoth. And in justification of our version of Psalm 1. 10 may be cited the fact, that the general word for cattle in the dialect of this country is behîm or bebaim, evidently from the same root as the Hebrew behemoth.
These circumstances and characteristics render it probable that these very unpoetic animals are the identical behemoth of Job. Buffaloes are not only larger, but far stronger than the ordinary cattle of Syria, and a yoke of them will carry a plow through tough sward or stiff soil which utterly balks the tiny
ox. At times, too, they are unruly, and even dangerous. A friend of mine, near this village below us, saw a cow rush at a woman, knock her over, and then throw herself upon her with such fury that the poor creature was instantly crushed to death. The cow had been alarmed and
maddened by the seizure of her calf; and, unless greatly provoked, they are quiet and inoffensive.
The fact that the region east of the Hûleh was the land of Uz—the home of Job-coincides, at least, with the idea that the buffalo is the behemoth of his most ancient poem.
Is this an admitted geographical fact?
The tradition of antiquity was to that effect, and I see no reason to question it. To ridicule the extravagant mania for pilgrimages in his time, Chrysostom says that many people made long journeys into the Hauran to visit the dung-hill upon which the patient patriarch sat and scratched himself with a potsherd. This shows the opinion of that early day in regard to the land of Uz, and modern research confirms the tradition. With a little antiquarian generosity to assist me, I can locate the whole family of Aram. This Hûleh
may have derived its name from Hul, the brother of Uz. If so, then they and their descendants must have been familiar with the reeds, and fens, and brooks of this great marsh, the chosen resort of the buffalo, and had often seen them, as we do to-day, lying at the birth-place of the young Jordan, as if they could draw him into their open mouths.
Gether, the next brother, was probably the Gesher from whom the district immediately around the eastern side of this lake took its name. Maacah, wife of David, and mother of Absalom, was from this little kingdom, and hither that wicked son fled after the murder of his brother. As for Mash, or Mas, his name may be perpetuated in that Mais, or Mais el Jebel, which we passed the other day on our way to Hûnîn. It is proper to inform you, however, that these locations are somewhat hypothetical, and even similarity of names is no
safe basis for such theories. The word Hûleh, for example, is now applied to any low, marshy plain, like this on our left.
I thought that critics were pretty nearly agreed that the buffalo is the reem—the unicorn of the Bible?
And this may be so, though I have my doubts. The description of the unicorn in the 39th chapter of Job does not ? 2 Sam. xiii. 37.
3 Gen, x. 23.
I Job xl. 23.