« PreviousContinue »
XIX. KUDES-SAFED-KEFR BUR’IAM.
March 6th. The existing remains of this city of refuge show that it was once a place of importance, but I know very little of its history.
It has one, however, and sufficiently ancient too. Barak lived here, and to this spot he and Deborah gathered that brave band of Naphtalites who routed the army of Sisera in the plain of Esdraelon. This is also the Cydessa or Kedasa of later days, and Josephus often mentions it under one or other of these names.
To it Titus retired with his army from Giscala, which lies over yonder to the southwest a few miles. Josephus says it was a “strong Mediterranean village of the Tyrians, which always made war with the Jews," a statement which needs qualification, as do many others of that historian. There seems to be no propriety in calling it a Mediterranean village at all, unless because its inhabitants at that time were from the sea-coast of Tyre. We may perhaps infer from this notice that the population, even in those olden times, was as fluctuating as in our days, and possibly owing to the same cause—the extreme unhealthiness of the site. In another place the Jewish historian says that Cadesh lies between the land of the Tyrians and Galilee. It was, therefore, a border town, and subject to all the vicissitudes of such unfortunate localities. And it is remarkable that, so far as the circumstances of the country admit of such a thing, it is still a border town, insecure, and often deserted.
The remains of its architecture bear witness to its varied fortunes. The hill on which the modern village stands was once fortified, and adorned with edifices very different from these wretched huts of mud and rubbish. Broken columns and handsome capitals indicate the presence of Greek artists; but the sarcophagi, and the ruins of large buildings on the plain down east of us, are certainly Jewish or Phoenician. They are, however, different from those at Maron, Ya
Judg. iv. 10–17.
413 ron, Tell Hûm, and other places in Galilee. The sarcophagi are very large, and some are double—a variety I have seen nowhere else in this country. The immense door-posts, twenty feet high, are doubtless of Jewish origin, and probably belonged to synagogues erected about the beginning of our era, possibly as late as the third century, at which period this region was crowded with Jews in peaceful and prosperous circumstances. In the mountain cliffs southwest of the village are many rock tombs, and altogether the marks of antiquity are numerous, and quite equal to the demands of her story.
Have you noticed the pretty plain sloping down to the northeast? Though on this elevated platform, so high above the Hûleh, it is wet and marshy in winter, and it is this, I suppose, that makes Kūdes so unhealthy. It may be that plain of Zaanaim which is by Kedesh,' on which the Kenites pitched their tents; if, indeed, the alon in that verse should not be translated terebinth instead of plain. This is one of the passages relied on to determine the signification of that word, but it does not do it. There is a fine plain here, “by Kedesh,” and therefore Heber may have pitched there; tent-dwellers, as he was, prefer the margin of such rich pastures. The Septuagint renders it oak, not terebinth, and Zaanaim it translates into robbers. So Heber pitched by the oak of the robbers. This very region, however, will favor those who wish to appropriate alon to the terebinth, for there are more of these trees on the hills between this and Mais el Jebel than in all the country besides. Ibrahim Pasha had them grafted with the pistacio from Aleppo, where that species abounds which bears the nut of the market. The peasants, however, destroyed the grafts, lest their crop of oil from the berries of these trees should be diminished, and thus this attempt at agricultural improvement was defeated.
It is very evident that Kūdes and Zaanaim will never settle the controversy about the alon; so far as they are concerned, it may be a plain, or a terebinth, or an oak.
1 Judg. iv. 11.
True enough; for there are magnificent oaks not far off, while the plain and the terebinths are in full view. And, finally, it is evident from Joshua xix. 33 that Alon Zaanaim was the proper name of one and the same place; and this is a matter of importance, as it gives us another point in the boundary of the tribe of Naphtali, for which any one who tries to run that line will be devoutly thankful.
I have directed Salîm to take a guide and go across the country to Kefr Bur’iam, where we are to spend the coming night. We will make a detour to the south, and visit Safed. Our route lies along the base of these cliffs, and we shall soon descend into the Muaddămîyeh, one of the wildest wadies of Naphtali. It comes down from Jish, and, indeed, from far above and beyond it westward, and its terrible cliffs are full of caves and crevices, the favorite home of hawks and eagles. And there goes a flock of stout, compact, iron-gray pigeons, flying as a cloud, and as doves to their windows.?
Is this the dove, and these clefts in the rock the windows referred to by the prophet?
The Hebrew word is the general name for the Columba family, of which there are many varieties in this country. Ezekiel, speaking of the destruction of the Jews, says, They that escape
of them shall be on the mountains like doves of the valleys,' or, as it should be, I think, the heights or lofty cliffs. The doves do not ordinarily fly in “clouds,” but this variety does; and supposing pigeons, and not turtle-doves to be intended, we have before us both the windows and the clouds which suggested the figures of the text. When traveling in the north of Syria many years ago, I noticed in certain villages tall square buildings without roofs, whose walls were pierced inside by numberless pigeon-holes. In these nestled and bred thousands of these birds. They are
Their very strong, swift of wing, and extremely wild. foraging excursions extend many miles in every direction, and it is curious to notice them returning to their "win
dows” like bees to their hives, or like clouds pouring over a sharp ridge into the deep wady below. I then supposed it was to such pigeon-houses full of windows that Isaiah referred, and it may have been so, but I have never seen them in Palestine. Perhaps the pigeons would not occupy them in this region, as there are in all directions natural windows in lofty cliffs where they can find a safer and more congenial home.
This would agree with their habits, as implied in Jeremiah's exhortation to Moab: O! ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities and dwell in the rock, and be like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole's mouth. Both Isaiah and Ezekiel speak of the mourning of the doves. Is there any thing peculiar in their note in this country?
It is always mourn. ful. The reference is to the turtle-dove, I suppose.
Their low, sad plaint may be heard all day long at certain seasons in the olive-groves, and in the solitary and shady valleys among these
mountains ; I have, however, been more affected by it in the vast orchards round Damascus than any where else—so subdued, so very sorrowful among the trees, where the air sighs softly, and little rills roll their melting murmurs down the flowery aisles. These birds can never be tamed. Confined in a cage, they droop, and, like Cowper, sigh for
“A lodge in some vast wilderness—some boundless contiguity of shade ;" and no sooner are they set at liberty than they flee, as a bird, to their mountains.3 David refers to their habits in this respect when his heart was sore pained within him: O that I 1 wings like a dove, for then would I fly away and be at
Lo, then would I wander far off and remain in the Jer. xlviii. 28. ? Isa. lix. 11, and Ezek. vii. 16. 3 Ps. xi. 1.