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ret, a distance of at least eight miles from their village. Our farmers would think it hard to travel so far before they began the day's work, and so would these if they had it to do every day; but they drive their oxen before them, carry bed, bedding, and board, plow, yoke, and seed on their donkeys, and expect to remain out in the open country until their task is accomplished. The mildness of the climate enables them to do so without inconvenience or injury. How very different from the habits of Western farmers! These men carry no cooking apparatus, and, we should think, no provisions. They, however, have a quantity of their thin, tough bread, a few olives, and perhaps a little cheese in that leathern bag which hangs from their shoulders—the “scrip” of the New Testament—and with this they are contented. When hungry they sit by the fountain, or the brook, and eat; if weary or sleepy, they throw around them their loose 'aba, and lie down on the ground as contentedly as the ox himself. At night they retire to a cave, sheltering rock, or shady tree, kindle a fire of thorn-bushes, heat over their stale bread, and, if they have shot a bird or caught a fish, they broil it on the coals, and thus dinner and supper in one are achieved with the least possible trouble. But their great luxury is smoking, and the whole evening is whiled away in whiffing tobacco and bandying the rude jokes of the lighthearted peasant. Such a life need not be disagreeable, nor is it necessarily a severe drudgery in this delightful climate. The only thing they dread is an incursion of wild Arabs from beyond the lake, and to meet them they are all armed as if going forth to war.
Do you suppose that this wallet, in which they carry their provisions, is the “scrip” which the disciples were directed not to take in their first missionary tours ?
No doubt; and the same, too, in which the young David put the five
smooth stones from the brook. All Matt. x. 10; Mark vi. 8; Luke ix. 3.
? 1 Sam. xvii. 40.
INSTRUCTIONS TO MISSIONARIES.
shepherds have them, and they are the farmer's universal vade-mecum. They are merely the skins of kids stripped off whole, and tanned by a very simple process. By the way, the entire "outfit” of these first missionaries shows that they were plain fishermen, farmers, or shepherds; and to such men there was no extraordinary self-denial in the matter or the mode of their mission. We may expound the “instructions” given to these primitive evangelists somewhat after the following manner: Provide neither silver, nor gold, nor brass in your purses. You are going to your brethren in the neighboring villages, and the best way
to get to their hearts and their confidence is to throw yourselves upon their hospitality. Nor was there any departure from the simple manners of the country in this. At this day the farmer sets out on excursions quite as extensive, without a para in his purse; and the modern Moslem prophet of Tarshîha thus sends forth his apostles over this identical region. Neither do they encumber themselves with two coats. They are accustomed to sleep in the garments they have on during the day, and in this climate such plain people experience no inconvenience from it. They wear a coarse shoe, answering to the sandal of the ancients, but never take two pair of them; and although the staff is an invariable companion of all wayfarers, they are content with one. Of course, such “instructions” can have only a general application to those who go forth, not to neighbors of the same faith and nation, but to distant climes, and to heathen tribes, and under conditions wholly diverse from those of the fishermen of Galilee; but there are general principles involved or implied which should always be kept in mind by those who seek to carry the Gospel to the masses of mankind either at home or abroad.
Why do you suppose our Lord commanded the disciples to salute no man by the way? This seems to be a de. parture from the general rule, to become all things to all men. Would it not appear very churlish and offensive to refuse the salam even of a stranger?
1 Matt. x. 9, 10.
: Luke x. 4.
It would; and I do not think that the prohibition extended that far; but the disciples were sent upon important and urgent business. They were embassadors from their Lord and king, and were not to loiter by the way in idle conversation with friends whom they might chance to meet. The same is now required of special messengers. No doubt the customary salutations were formal and tedious, as they are now, particularly among Druses and other non-Christian sects, and consumed much valuable time. There is also such an amount of insincerity, flattery, and falsehood in the terms of salutation prescribed by etiquette, that our Lord, who is truth itself, desired his representatives to dispense with them as far as possible, perhaps tacitly to rebuke them. These "instructions” were also intended to reprove another propensity which an Oriental can scarcely resist, no matter how urgent his business. If he meets an acquaintance, he must stop and make an endless number of inquiries, and an. swer as many. If they come upon men making a bargain or discussing any other matter, they must pause and intrude their own ideas, and enter keenly into the business, though it in no wise concerns them; and more especially, an Oriental can never resist the temptation to assist where accounts are being settled or money counted out. The clink of coin has a positive fascination to them. Now the command of our Saviour strictly forbade all such loiterings. They would waste time, distract attention, and in many ways hinder the prompt and faithful discharge of their important mission.
Upon the same principle he forbade them to go from house to house. The reason is very obvious to one acquainted with Oriental customs. When a stranger arrives in a village or an encampment, the neighbors, one after another, must invite him to eat with them. There is a strict etiquette about it, involving much ostentation and hypocrisy, and a failure in the due observance of this system of hospitality is violently resented, and often leads to alienations and feuds among neighbors; it also consumes much time, causes unusual distraction of mind, leads to levity, and every
I Luke x. 7.
way counteracts the success of a spiritual mission. On these accounts the evangelists were to avoid these feasts; they were sent, not to be honored and feasted, but to call men to repentance, prepare the way of the Lord, and proclaim that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. They were, therefore, first to seek a becoming habitation to lodge in, and there abide until their work in that city was accomplished. "Go not from house to house" was a most important precept, and all evangelists in our own country must act upon the spirit of it whenever they go forth to call men to repentance.
Let us now turn southward a little, and examine 'Ain el Mudowerah, the famous Round Fountain, which, for a long time, was supposed to mark the site of Capernaum. This Gennesaret was and is extremely well watered. There are fountains far up Wady Hamam which irrigate the southwestern part of it. The streams from Rŭbūdîyeh spread over the western side, and the Round Fountain waters the portion lying between it and the lake. Toward the northwest the Nahr 'Amûd, and the Leimûny from above Safed, cross the plain to the lake, and the northeastern part was anciently fertilized by the powerful fountains of Tabiga. Here is the Round Fountain, covered up with bushes and briers. Dr. Robinson correctly describes it as "inclosed by a low circular wall of mason-work, forming a reservoir nearly a hundred feet in diameter; the water is perhaps two feet deep, beautifully limpid and sweet, bubbling up, and flowing out rapidly in a large stream to water the plain below."
Josephus thus boasts of the fertility of Gennesaret: "Its nature is wonderful as well as its beauty. Its soil is so fruitful that all sorts of trees can grow upon it, and the inhabitants, accordingly, plant all sorts of trees there; for the temperature of the air is so well mixed that it agrees very well with those several sorts; particularly walnuts, which require the coldest air, flourish there in vast plenty. One may call this the ambition of Nature where it forces those plants which are naturally enemies to one another to agree together. It is a happy conjunction of the seasons, as if
every one laid claim to this country; for it not only nourishes different sorts of autumnal fruits beyond men's expectations, but preserves them a great while. It supplies men with the principal fruits; with grapes and figs continually during ten months of the year, and the rest of the fruits, as they become ripe, through the whole year; for, besides the good temperature of the air, it is also watered from a most fertile fountain. The people of the country call it Caper
Some have thought it a vein of the Nile, because it produces the Coracin fish, as well as that lake which is near Alexandria. The length of this country extends itself along the bank of this lake that bears the same name for thirty furlongs, and is in breadth twenty: and this is the nature of this place.”
This extract shows, at least, the "ambition" of the historian to magnify his own country; but it is very interesting, as a vivid contrast between what this country was eighteen centuries ago and what it now is. The soil may be as good as ever, and the climate the same, but where are the walnuts, the figs, the olives, the grapes, and the other fruits coming on in their season the year round? Alas! all gone. The canal, too, from the fountain of Capernaum is broken, and there are no inhabitants to restore it and to cultivate this "ambition of Nature."
The dimensions of the plain, as given by Josephus, are correct enough, though it is a little longer than thirty, and not quite twenty furlongs in breadth. In summer time all the streams which enter the plain disappear before they reach the lake. I once rode along the margin of the water from Mejdel to 'Ain et Tâny, and was often obliged to wade in the lake itself to get round sharp corners covered with bushes, and no brook of any sort or size at that season entered it from the plain; in winter and spring, however, both the Rūbūdîyeh and the Leimûny send strong brooks across to the lake. This Leimûny, where it issues forth from the mountains, has uncovered an immense formation of petrified cane and wood, such as I have seen in no other place. I carried away a donkey-load on one of my visits to this region.