« PreviousContinue »
struck me as a very judicious one, that it might have been with such a weapon that Shamgar made the prodigious slaughter related of him. *
From this tomb we went to a still more perfect one, which was entirely cleared out, and now used as a private dwelling. Though the females of the family were within, we were allowed to enter, and descended by a flight of three steps, there being either a cistern or a deep sepulchre on the right of this descent. The portals and architrave were here perfectly exposed, the ornaments of the latter were a wreath and open flowers; the door also was divided by a studded bar, and pannelled, and the ring of the knocker remained, though the knocker itself had been broken off. The door, which was of the same size and thickness as those described, traversed easily on its hinges, and we were permitted to open and close it at pleasure. On examining it closely, all that has before been said on the mode of fixing and of fastening it, was confirmed, as we could here see every part of the construction more perfectly.
The tomb was about eight, feet in height, on the inside, as there was a descent of a steep step
* And after him was Shamgar, the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox-goad : and he also delivered Israel. — Judges, iii. 31.
from the stone threshold to the floor. Its size was about twelve paces square, but as no light was received into it except by the door, we could not see whether there was an inner chamber, as in some of the others. A perfect sarcophagus still remained within, and this was now used by the family as a chest for corn, and other provisions, so that this violated sepulchre of the dead had thus become a secure, a cool, and a convenient retreat to the living of a different race.
FROM OOM KAIS, ACROSS THE HIEROMAX AND JORDAN, TO NAZARETH.
WE left the village of Oom Kais about four o'clock, and descended by a winding path down the steep hill on whose summit it stood. In about half an hour we reached its foot, and seeing some Bedouin tents near, our guides determined on halting here for the night.
We had arranged amongst ourselves, to reach, if possible, the small village of Sumuk, in the southern bight of the lake, and after sleeping there, to proceed to Tiberias, on its western edge, in the morning; but we now learned that there was an affair of blood between the people of that neighbourhood and our guides; and that, therefore, they could not enter either the one or the other. They professed their willingness to go to Nazareth, but no further; and Mr. Bankes, not having seen that neighbourhood, or the coast to the northward of Jaffa, agreed to go directly thither with them.
It was to me as painful a circumstance to lose such an agreeable companion, as it was disadvantageous to abandon so safe a protection as our party had hitherto afforded to us all; but I felt the call of duty as imperious, and determined to proceed alone to Sumuk, and from thence, on the following morning, through Tiberias, straight to Damascus, as the nearest road to Aleppo.
In the midst of the dispute, while we were yet endeavouring to prevail on the Arabs to continue on our original route, and before we had entered this Bedouin camp below, my horse fell, in crossing a ravine, and crushed my right leg and foot between the saddle and the rugged rock of the valley. As the horse rose nimbly, it was without difficulty that I was extricated from this situation, and placed again on my seat, the pain being violent but not excruciating at first, and, as I then thought, by no means alarming.
We continued towards the tents, which were pitched on the banks of the Nahr-el-Hami; but as the sun was yet a full hour high, we determined, instead of alighting, to cross the river and visit the hot springs on the other side, which were close by.
We accordingly forded the Hieromax with some difficulty, as its stream was here broader,
deeper, and more rapid than the Jordan at the time and place of our first crossing that river above Jericho. Reaching safely the opposite bank, we found a black soil, with some little cultivation; and a few yards up from the stream, on the north-western side, we came to the ruins of a Roman building, enveloped in the steam of the springs on which it stood.
On approaching nearer, we found the edifice to be an ancient bath; the great hall, the cisterns, the private chambers, the recesses, and narrow stairs of which still remained, with several arches on the north, that either inclosed a court for horses, or belonged to some outer building attached to the establishment.
The whole of this edifice was constructed of the black stone, of which we had lately seen so much, and which appeared to us to be volcanic; and we could now perceive, that in the cliffs above, through which the Hieromax made its way, as well as on the upper part of the opposite hills, this stone formed a deep layer on a basis of white soil almost like chalk. The whole bed of the river was one singular mixture of these black rocks, worn smooth and round by the passage of the water, but still as porous as pumice-stone, and equal masses of the white stone, which was nearly of as hard but smoother surface.