Page images

Greeks entered this country, had an Aramaic name, which was exchanged, in process of time, for the foreign one, as has happened in a few other cases. And as Rûheîb and Rahba are found still clinging to sites both above and below Banias, may not this have been the true seat of the old Rehobites?

And now let us ride. It is twenty minutes to Jisr el Ghủjar, over the Hasbāny. You will be struck with the picturesque beauty of the rocks, the river, and the bridge, and wish for a drawing of them to carry home with you. It is much more charming, however, in May, when these magnificent oleanders are all in a glow of rosy blossoms. I have spent hours here, gazing into the pools of the pretty Hasbāny, and watching the innocent sports of the fish, with which it at times is overcrowded. They come up from the marshes of the Hûleh in numbers almost incredible. But we have no time to waste on them now. Have you any curiosity to see a real Arab village ?

By all means. That is one of the points which I have yet to make.

Turn down, then, to the left, and we will soon reach that encampment of Ghawaraneh, on the edge of this wet plain. You need not be alarmed by that troop of noisy dogs charging down upon us with open mouths. Their bark is worse than their bite-genuine Arab bluster, and nothing more.

Will these coarse mat walls and roofs shed rain and defend from cold?

Better than you imagine; still, they are a miserable abode for rational beings. These tribes are stationary fellaheen or farmers, and are therefore regarded with sovereign contempt by the true Bedawîn.

They are the most sinister, ill-conditioned race I have ever seen, and do not begin to fill my beau ideal of the free, proud denizen of the Desert.

Like most other beau ideals, this in regard to tent-dwelling Arabs would flatten down sadly by close acquaintance. Pshah! The Bedawîn are mere barbarians, rough when rational, and in all else vulgar brutes.



What are these women kneading and shaking so zealously in that large black bag, suspended from this three-legged crotch?

That is a bottle, man, not a bag, made by stripping off entire the skin of a young buffalo. . It is full of milk, and that is their way of churning.

When the butter" has come,” they take it out, boil or melt it, and then put it in bottles made of goats' skins. In winter it resembles candied honey, in summer it is mere oil. This is the only kind of butter we have.

Do you mean to say that our cooking is done with this filthy preparation ?

Certainly; and this Hûleh butter is the best in the country. Some of the farmers have learned to make our kind of butter, but it soon becomes rancid, and, indeed, it is never good. I believe it was always so; and thus, too, I suppose, they made butter in olden times. Solomon says, Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood. But the word for “churning” and “wringing" is the same in the Hebrew. It is the wringing of milk that bringeth forth butter, just as these women are squeezing and wringing this milk in the “bottle.” There is no analogy between our mode of churning, and pulling a man's nose until the blood comes, but in this Arab operation the comparison is quite natural and emphatic. The Arabic translation of this proverb is curious, and very far from the original: “He that wrings the dug violently that he may bring out milk, brings forth butter, and he who milks harder still will bring out blood.”

This little brook we are crossing comes from Ijon, by Abel. It is associated in my experience with the beautiful Hûleh lily, the flower, as I believe, mentioned by our Lord in that delightful exhortation to trust in the kind care of our heavenly Father. Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not, and yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.? This Hûleh lily is very large, and the three inner petals

[ocr errors]

2 Luke xii. 27

1 Prov. xxx. 33.

meet above, and form a gorgeous canopy, such as art never approached, and king never sat under, even in his utmost glory. And when I met this incomparable flower, in all its loveliness, among the oak woods around the northern base of Tabor and on the hills of Nazareth, where our Lord spent his youth, I felt assured that it was to this he referred. We call it Hûleh lily because it was here that it was first discovered. Its botanical name, if it have one, I am unacquainted with, and am not anxious to have any other than that which connects it with this neighborhood. I suppose, also, that it is this identical flower to which Solomon refers in the “Song of Songs:" I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. The bride, comparing her beloved to a roe or a young hart, sees him feeding among the lilies. Our flower delights most in the valleys, but is also found on the mountains. It grows among thorns, and I have sadly lacerated my hands in extricating it from them. Nothing can be in higher contrast than the luxuriant, velvety softness of this lily, and the crabbed, tangled hedge of thorns about it. Gazelles still delight to feed among them, and you can scarcely ride through the woods north of Tabor, where these lilies abound, without frightening them from their flowery pasture.

This long volcanic hill, running up north, is called Sinselet el Hîeyeh-chain of the serpent—from its serpentine shape; and the brook in the wady between it and Hunîn comes from a large fountain about two miles up it, called 'Ain et Dahab-gold fountain. Our road now turns south between the mountains of Kūdes and this vast marsh which here comes up to the foot of the cliffs. This fountain is called 'Adely, and a much larger one ahead of us is named 'Amûdîyeh, where is the village, or, rather, encampment of Boizîyeh. From this to Blâtâ is half an hour, and there we shall rest and lunch.

There are traces of large buildings about this fountain. Yes, and a wall with a ditch was once carried from the

Song ii. 1, 2, 16.




marsh to the mountain, and thus effectually commanded the road toward the south. Here is another pool crowded with buffaloes wallowing in swinish felicity, with only the tip of the nose above the muddy water.

From our present position we can look over the entire marsh north of the lake. If you are fond of solving geological problems, you may calculate the time it has taken to fill up this

spongy plain to its present level and consistency. The great fountains of Banias, Tel el Kâdy and all the rest, are clear as crystal the year round, and would not deposit slime enough in a million of years to fill an acre of this tenmile marsh. But the Sāāry, the Hasbāny, the Derdara from Ijon, and many small torrents from the mountains, are quite muddy during the winter rains, and their contributions have slowly gained upon the lake through past ages, crowding it southward into narrow and still narrower limits, and the time may come when it will be entirely obliterated. The infant Jordan seems in danger of suffocation in this tangled jungle of cane and bushes. I once asked an Arab if I could not penetrate through it to the lake. Looking at me keenly to see if I were not in joke, he slowly raised both hands to his head, and swore by “the great—the Almighty,” that not even a wild boar could get through. And he spoke the truth. It is an utterly impassable slough, worse than Bunyan ever dreamed of. When encamped, two years ago, at this village which we have passed, I was tempted down to the verge of the jungle by a flock of ducks. With gun in hand and eye on the game, and not upon my footsteps, I cautiously advanced, when suddenly I was in oozy mud that seemed to have no bottom. Flinging the gun back and struggling desperately, I regained the bank, and ever after kept a sharp and suspicious eye upon its treacherous depths. But this very impenetrability to man and beast makes it the favorite retreat of crows and rooks; there they breed, and thither they return at night from their rambles over the country. Upon the mountain above Hunîn I have watched them at early dawn rising in clouds from this jungle. On they came, like wild pigeons in the West, only their line

[graphic][merged small][graphic][merged small]

was not across the horizon, but like the columns of an endless army, stretching from the Hûleh up Wady et Teim farther than the eye could follow them; the column, however, grows less and less dense by the departure in every direction of small squadrons, according to some social regulations known only to themselves, until the whole is dissipated. These birds are the plague of the farmer. They light by thousands on his fields, and devour so much of the freshsown seed that he is obliged to make a large allowance

their depredations. It is utterly useless to attempt to

« PreviousContinue »