« PreviousContinue »
SHEPHERD AND HIS FLOCK.
is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep?1 I envy him his slumbers; they are the sweet ones of the laboring man. And now come in; let us consult the “best of books," and then commend ourselves and all we love to that good Shepherd who slumbers not nor sleeps.
VI. DAMUR TO SIDON.
January 29th. We are favored with another bright morning, which you have been improving, as I see, by an early ramble over the hills; but come down to the river. There is something going forward worth seeing. Yon shepherd is about to lead his flock across; and—as our Lord says of the good shepherd—you observe that he goes before, and the sheep follow. Not all in the same manner, however. Some enter boldly, and come straight across. These are the loved ones of the flock, who keep hard by the footsteps of the shepherd, whether sauntering through green meadows, by the still waters, feeding upon the mountains, or resting at noon beneath the shadow of great rocks. And now others enter, but in doubt and alarm. Far from their guide, they miss the ford, and are carried down the river, some more, some less, and yet, one by one, they all struggle over and make good their landing. Notice those little lambs. They refuse to enter, and must be driven into the stream by the shepherd's dog, mentioned by Job in his “parable.” Poor things! how they leap, and plunge, and bleat in terror! That weak one yonder will be swept quite away, and perish in the sea. But no; the shepherd himself leaps into the stream, lifts it into his bosom, and bears it trembling to the shore. All safely over, how happy they appear. The lambs frisk and gambol about in high spirits, while the older ones gather round their faithful guide, and look up to him in subdued but expressive thankfulness.
Now, can you watch such a scene, and not think of that Shepherd who leadeth Joseph like a flock, and of another
.? Exod. xxii. 26, 27.
river which all his sheep must cross? He, too, goes before, and, as in the case of this flock, they who keep near him fear no evil. They hear his sweet voice saying, When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee, and through the floods they shall not overflow thee. With eye fastened on him, they scarcely see the stream, or feel its cold and threatening waves. The great majority, however, “ linger, shivering on the brink, and fear to launch away.” They lag behind, look down upon the dark river, and, like Peter on stormy Gennesaret, when faith failed, they begin to sink. Then they cry for help, and not in vain. The good Shepherd hastens to their rescue, and none of all His flock can ever perish. Even the weakest lambkins are carried safely over. I once saw flocks crossing the Jordan “ to Canaan's fair and happy land," and there the scene was even more striking and impressive. The river was broader, the current stronger, and the flocks larger, while the shepherds were more picturesque and Biblical. The catastrophe, too, with which many poor sheep were threatened-of being swept down into that mysterious sea of death which swallows up the Jordan itself—was more solemn and suggestive.
But it is eight o'clock-high time to be on our way. We must be more expeditious in the morning, or our progress will be slow, indeed. The road leads along and over this rocky headland, called Nukkâr es S'adîat, which answers to the Platoneum mentioned by Polybius as the battle-field be. tween Antiochus the Great and the army of Ptolemy under Nicolaus.
It is an ugly pass to force against an enemy holding these rugged heights. My horse can scarcely keep his feet on this detestable pavement.
Now take the advice of an old traveler, and learn to possess your soul in patience, even when blundering over such paths as this. Wearied, perplexed, and disgusted, many tourists tear through this most interesting country having eyes that see not, ears that hear not, and hearts that can not understand. Better take for granted that we have gone
1 Is. xliii. 2.
BAD ROADS—DONKEY FALLEN.
through these annoyances from Dan to Beersheba-have declined every case, direct and oblique, of bad roads, bûkrah, and bukshîsh, and thrown them aside as having nothing to do with our daily journeyings. It is only thus that one can preserve an even temper, a joyous heart, and a mind awake to the scenes and scenery along the way. We can not afford to have our peace disturbed by such trifles. It would seriously interfere with the main purpose of our pilgrimage, which we must never forget. For example, this very path, so rocky and so slippery, furnishes a commentary on another of those humane precepts which distinguish the Mosaic code. See those men lifting a poor donkey that has fallen under its load. Moses says, If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldst forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him. Now the people lifting this donkey are bitter enemies—Maronites and Druses— quite recently engaged in a bloody social war, and ready to begin again on the very first opportunity, and yet they help to lift the ass that is lying under his burden, as though they were the best friends in the world. We have in this simple incident the identical occasion for the precept, and its most literal fulfillment. Nor is this all. It is fair to infer, from the peculiar specification made by Moses, that the people in his day were divided into inimical parties and clans, just as they now are in these mountains. Moses would not have mentioned the ass of an enemy if enemies were not so common that the case specified was likely to occur. So, also, we may conclude that the donkeys were half starved, and then overloaded by their cruel masters, for such are now the conditions in which these poor slaves of all work ordinarily fall under their burdens, and that then, as now, it required the united strength of at least two persons lifting, one on either side, to enable the ass to rise out of his painful and often dangerous predicament. The plan is to lift the beast to its feet without taking off the load, which is a tedious business. And, once more, we may infer with certainty that the roads were then as rough and slippery as
· Ex. xxiii. 5.
this which has upset your patience and our unfortunate donkey. All these deductions I believe to be very near the truth. Manners and customs, men and things, roads and loads, continue very much what they were three thousand years ago.
The truth of that becomes more and more evident the farther we advance. Voices address the ear from all sides, and signals hang out on every hill-top to catch the eye. The stone cries out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber
NOTATION OF TIME-TATTOOING.
91 will answer. We only need to know how to put them to the question.
Without being responsible for your accommodation of Habakkūk, the idea is correct enough, and should be remembered and acted upon continually in our travels. Let us try the experiment with this man that comes to meet us. Ask him the time of day, and he will infallibly reply that it is about the third hour. If it were near noon, he would say the sixth. Inquire the day of the week, he will tell you it is the fourth day, just as Moses wrote. Question him farther on the point, and he will inform you that last night and this morning make up the fourth day. They count from sunset to sunset, as Adam did, and the coming evening belongs to to-morrow. But here is something else to claim attention, whether we will or not-Arabs watering their flocks at this ancient well. They are adroit thieves and most importunate beggars. One of them stole my waterjug, from which I had just slaked his real or pretended thirst; so let your purse lie at the bottom of your pocket, and look to your handkerchief and every loose article about you. Do you notice that the women are all tattooed?
Is it that which gives such a blue tinge to their lips?
Yes; and those marks on the forehead, chin, breast, arms, hands, and feet, are all various patterns and figures of this most ancient art. The effect is any thing but agreeable to our taste. All Orientals, however, have a passion for it. Moses either instituted some such custom, or appropriated one already existing to a religious purpose. He says, And thou shalt show thy son in that day, saying, this is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when I came - forth out of Egypt; and it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thy hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes; (or 16th) for a token upon thy hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes. This practice of marking religious tokens upon the hands and arms is almost universal among the Arabs, of all sects and classes. Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem have the operation performed there, as the most holy place known to 1 Hab. ii. 11.
a Gen. i. 19. 3 Exod. xiii. 9 and 16.