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BOUNDARIES OF THE TRIBES-ASHER.
Jiphthah-el, which may have been this wady of the Kishon; but this is quite uncertain.
The reason why the boundaries of the different tribes were so eccentric originally, and are now so difficult to follow, was, that the “lots” were not meted out according to geographical lines, but lands of certain cities lying more or less contiguous were assigned to each tribe as its inheritance. These cities were the capitals of small principalities or districts, just as Tibnin, and Hũnin, and Bint Jebail, etc., are now. The territory of one might extend far to the east of the city, that of the next to the west, etc. Suppose two such cities on the eastern border of Asher, for example: the line might lay along the edge of the plain of Acre, and thus include all the land belonging to the first, and then it must be drawn eastward far up the mountains in a most eccentric compass to embrace all the territory appertaining to the next, and so on throughout. Thus it is possible that Câbûl, and 'Umka, and Cosa, and Kanah, all lay along the eastern border of Asher. And thus it would happen that a village on the border of the plain would belong to Naphtali, and the next one, far east and on the mountains, to Asher. The coast was in the hands of Acre, Achzib, Tyre, and Sidon, which the Asherites could never conquer. There remains, therefore, generally the hills sloping toward the sea, with so much of the plains as they could subdue. Josephus is even more indefinite than Joshua. He says, “The tribe of Aser had that part which was called the valley, for such it was, and all that part which lay over against Sidon. The city Aser belonged to their share, which is also named Actipus.” Now there is no valley to correspond to this description. The plain of Acre is full twenty miles long, and the upper part of this, with the eastern hills, we know formed a large part of Asher's “lot." But a plain is not a valley. Farther north they doubtless possessed the great promontory called the Ladder of Tyre, which is about a thousand feet high and eight miles across, and was crowded with towns and cities as it is now with ruins. Still farther on, in the same direction, they had what is called Sahil Kanah—the plain of Kanah—including the hills and the eastern margin of the plain of Tyre to the River Kasimîeh, in length about sixteen miles, and in breadth probably not more than eight. If they crossed the Kasimîeh so as to possess the parts over against Sidon, as Josephus says, then they had the hill country now called Shumar, and parts of the districts of Shukîf and Tiffah, above Sidon. This would give a length of not less than sixty miles, with a mean breadth of ten or twelve, but it is in no proper sense a valley.
Josephus was probably acquainted personally with only that part of Asher which extended along the east side of the plain of Acre, terminating at the sea near Burj el Musheîrifeh. This tract, seen from the neighboring heights of Galilee, would look like a valley, for a line of low sandhills begins in front of Acre at Tell el Fakhar, and runs parallel to the coast northward to Nahr el Kŭrn, in the vicinity of Zîb. The plain between this and the hills of Galilee formed a valuable part of Asher's “lot,” and might have been called a valley. These remarks about boundaries may suffice once for all. It is now absolutely impossible to draw lines around the separate lots with any degree of certainty. Their general positions with relation to each other, however, can be ascertained with sufficient exactness for all important purposes in the study of Biblical geography.
I have one more inquiry before you drop the subject. The sea-board from Acre to Sidon belonged to Asher, and the lot of Zebulon extended eastward toward Tabor. Now, how do you reconcile this with the prophecy of Jacob in Genesis xlix. 13: Zebulon shall dwell at the haven of the sea, and he shall be for a haven of ships, and his borders shall be unto Zidon?
There is, in fact, an apparent contradiction here between prophecy and history which I have not seen explained, or even noticed by ordinary commentators. That the territory of Zebulon did not reach to the city of Sidon is certain. Perhaps the following considerations may reconcile the prophecy of the dying patriarch with the subsequent his
BORDER OF ZEBULON-JACOB'S PROPHECY.
tory and home of Zebulon. In the time of Jacob, and at the distance of Egypt, Zidon was the representative of all Phoenicia. She was, in fact, the mother of that people, and was so spoken of by Homer several hundred years after the death of Jacob. Homer does not speak of Achzib, or Acre, or Dor, but only of Zidon, when he has occasion to mention this country. But Phoenicia, or Sidonia if you please, extended south of Acre, and Zebulon bordered on the sea for a considerable distance along that part of the coast; Jacob therefore spoke according to the received geography of his time, but with prophetic brevity mentioned only the parent city. When, however, Joshua, several hundred years later, came to divide the country between the tribes, it became necessary to specify the subordinate places, and no doubt some of the cities south of Sidon had by that time risen to importance, and might well give name to the coast in their vicinity; at all events, Joshua was obliged to mention them in defining the limits of the tribes. Hence, though Zebulon touched the sea far south of the city of Sidon, yet "his haven of ships” was actually a part of the general coast of Sidonia when Jacob gave forth his prophecy. Nor is it at all improbable that the territory of Sidon did originally extend southward to where Zebulon had his border at the sea, thus meeting the very letter of the promise.
March 13. Our friends accompany us to Khaifa and Carmel this morning, and we may anticipate a pleasant ride round the head of this bay.
What dark and sluggish stream is this we are approaching?
It is the Nahr Naaman—the Belus, which Pliny says had its origin in a lake called Cendevia. He speaks of its insalubrity, and no doubt the fevers which afflict Acre have their origin in the marshes of this stream. It rises below Shefa 'Amr in large fountains, now called Kurdany, which drive a number of mills. This Kurdany is doubtless Pliny's Cendevia. It is, in fact, a large marsh, called a lake by the same sort of courtesy that dignifies this brook with the name of river. The evil qualities of the water, and also its dark color, are derived from the marshes at the head of it. I came near being swamped in its fathomless depths of mire. The lake is made, like that of Hums on the Orontes, by a strong and ancient dam across the lower end of the marshes. The whole area may be three miles in circuit, and the river at the mills is quite as large as here at the sea. The entire length is not more than six miles. It is pleasant to be able to confirm the statement of Pliny about this lake, for its existence has been denied by modern travelers.
Pliny repeats the story about the discovery of glass by sailors cooking their dinner on the sand at the mouth of this river. What have you to say to that?
When descending from Yerka to Acre several years ago, I noticed that the rock for many miles had a vitreous appearance, as if it had actually been smelted in some grand furnace of nature, and needed only to be melted over again and refined to make it genuine glass. The idea occurred to me at the time that the disintegration of this vitreous rock might have furnished the glassy particles in the bed of the Belus, and other brooks which fall into the sea along this part of the coast, and which first led to the discovery of