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the standing corn of the Philistines. The tower ahead is at Ramleh, and was built by the crusaders nearly a thousand years ago — Ramleh being the Arimathea where lived Joseph, who provided the Saviour with a sepulchre. Also, it is said to be the place where in the days when Samuel judged Israel the Jews besought him for a king, and acquired Saul and the line of David and Solomon as a result. To the eastward lies the Valley of Ajalon, where Joshua stopped the astronomical clock for the only time in a million ages, that he might slaughter some remaining Amorites before dark.
We are out of the Plains of Sharon by this time, running through a profitless-looking country, mostly rock and barren, hardly worth fighting over, it would seem. Yet there were plenty of people to be killed here in the old days, and as late as fifteen hundred years after Joshua the Roman Emperor Hadrian slaughtered so many Jews at Bittir (a place we shall pass presently) that the horses waded to their nostrils in blood, and a stone weighing several pounds was swept along by the ruby tide. The guide told us this, and said if we did not believe it he could produce the stone.
Landmarks fairly overlap one another. Here, at Hill Gezer, are the ruins of an ancient city presented to Solomon by one of his seven hundred fathers-inlaw. Yonder at Ekron so much history has been made that a chapter would be required to record even a list of the events. Ekron was one of the important cities which Joshua did not capture, perhaps because he could not manage the solar system permanently. The whole route fairly bristles with Bible names, and we are variously affected. When we are shown the footprints of Joshua and Jacob and David and Solomon we are full of interest. When we recall that this is also the land of Phut and Cush and Buz and Jidlaph and Pildash we are moved almost to tears.
For those last must have been worthy men. The Bible records nothing against them, which is more than can be said of the others named. Take Jacob, for instance. I have searched carefully, and I fail to find anything to his credit beyond the fact that he procreated the Lord's chosen people. I do find that he deceived his father, defrauded his brother, outmaneuvred his rascally father-in-law, and was a craven at last before Esau, who had been rewarded for his manhood and forgiveness and wrongs by being classed with the Ishmaelites, a name that carries with it a reproach to this day.
Then there is Solomon. We need not go into the matter of his thousand wives and pretty favorites. Long ago we condoned that trifling irregularity as incident to the period — related in some occult but perfectly reasonable way to great wisdom. No, the wives are all right-also the near-wives, we have swallowed those, too; but then there comes in his heresy, his idolatry-all those temples built to heathen gods when he had become magnificent and mighty and full of years. There was that altar which he set up to Moloch on the hill outside of Jerusalem (called to this day the Hill of Offence), an altar for the sacrifice of children by fire. Even Tiberius Cæsar and Nero did not go as far as that. I'm sorry, and I shall be damned for it, no doubt, but I think, on the whole, in the language of the Diplomat, I shall have to “pass Solomon up.” Never mind about the other two. Joshua's record is good enough if one cares for a slayer of women and children, and David was a poet-a supreme poet, a divine poet
--which accounts for a good deal. Still, he did not need to put the captured Moabites under saws and harrows of iron and make them walk through brickkilns, as described in II. Samuel xii: 31, to be picturesque. Neither did he need to kill Uriah the Hittite in order to take his wife away from him. Uriah would probably have parted with her on easier terms.
It is sad enough to reflect that the Bible, in its good, old, relentless way, found it necessary to record such things as these against our otherwise Sunday-school heroes and models. Nothing of the sort is set down against Buz and Cush and Phut and Pildash and Jidlaph. Very likely they were about perfect. I. wish I knew where they sleep.
The nearer one approaches Jerusalem the more barren and unproductive becomes the country. There are olive-groves and there are cultivated fields, but there are more of Ainty hillsides and rocky steeps. The habitations are no longer collected in villages, in the Syrian fashion, but are scattered here and there, with wide sterile places between. There would seem to be not enough good land in any one place to support a village.
I suppose this is the very home of baksheesh. I know at every station mendicants, crippled and blind -always blind—come swarming about, holding up
piteous hands and repeating endlessly the plaintive wail, “Baksheesh! bak-sheesh!” One's heart grows sick and hard by turns. There are moments when you long for the wealth of a Rockefeller to give all these people a financial standing, and there are moments when you long for a Gatling-gun to turn loose in their direction. We are only weak and human. We may pity the hungry fly ever so much, but we destroy him.
I think, by-the-way, some of these beggars only cry baksheesh from habit, and never expect to get anything. I think so, because here and there groups of them stand along the railway between stations, and hold out their hands, and voice the eternal refrain as we sweep by. It is hardly likely that any one ever flings anything out of a car-window. Pity becomes too sluggish in the East to get action as promptly as that.
It was toward evening when we ran into a rather modern little railway station, and were told that we were “there.” We got out of the train then, and found ourselves in such a howling mob of humanity as I never dreamed could gather in this drowsy land. We were about the last party of the season, it seems, and the porters and beggars and cabmen and general risfraff were going to make the most of us. We were seized and dragged and torn and lifted-our dragoman could keep us together about as well as one cowboy could handle a stampeded herd. I have no distinct recollection of how we managed to reach the carriages, but the first words I heard after regaining consciousness were:
“That pool down there is where Solomon was anointed king."
I began to take notice then. We were outside a range of lofty battlemented walls, approaching a wide gate flanked by an imposing tower that might belong to the Middle Ages. We looked down on the squalid pool of Gihon, and I tried to visualize the scene of Solomon's coronation there, which I confess I found difficult. Then we turned to the tower and the entrance to the Holy City. · We were entering Jerusalem by the Jaffa gate, and the tower was the Tower of David.