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not founded on accurate information, and which do not authorise any supposition of exaggeration in the sacred accounts.
This writer, in his account of the Crusades, represents Judæa to have been, as he describes it to be “at present, one of the worst of all the inhabited countries of Asia, being almost entirely covered with parched rocks, with one layer of soil, and such as, if cultivated, might be compared to Switzerland.”
It is to be observed, however, that this unfair writer bas totally overlooked many circumstances which explain and confirm the accounts of the Sacred Historians ; and it would tend but little to justify his remarks, even if he could prove that the soil of Judæa is now barren; since it would not be unwarrantable to contend, that the Divine favour might have conferred extraordinary fertility upon it in former times, and the Divine curse have afterwards condemned it to sterility ; but, in truth, there is no proof that it is now barren; on the contrary, travellers most entitled to credit, represent it as more fruitful than the best part of the coast of Syria or Phænicia,
the soil being richer and more productive * ; while there is sufficient evidence that it was formerly very productive and capable of sustaining its vast population.
The great number of inhabitants which this country is represented to have supported, was not niore than the exertion of the nation and their wars might seem to have required ; and, indeed, the accounts upon this subject are confirmed by Heathen testimonies and by Josephus.
Tacitus describes the climate as dry, and the soil as fruitful, exuberant in its produce, like that of Italy, and bearing the palm and the balsam f, the former of great size and beauty. This account is attested by Pliny
* See Shaw's Travels and Observations, p. 365. Edit. Oxford. See also P. de Valle, Lett. iii. and i Kings v. 11. 2 Chron. xiv. 8.-Dr. Shaw gives the following extract from P. de Valle, as confirining his accounts of the fertility of the Holy Land." Il paese per donde camminavamo era « bellissima. Tutti collini, valli e monticelli fruttiferi. “ Le convalle de Mambre e a punto comme tutti gli altri “ paesi dintorno, che quantunque montuosi e sassosi sono “ pero fertilissimi,” Let. xiii. “ Le montagne e valli bien “ che siano alpestri sono nondimeno tutte frutissere per la “ dilengenza degli agricoltori.” Id. Lett. iii.
+ Hist. lib. v.9 6. Justin. lib. xxxvi, c. 3.
and Galen *. Josephus represents the soil to be rich and fruitful, and he quotes writers and historians -t, as confirming his report ; he particularly describes the district Genesareth, as admirable for its fertility and beauty, for a soil which did not refuse to receive any kind of fruit, producing nuts, which required a wintry climate, and palms which are nourished by heat; and at the same time figs and olives, which flourish best in the temperature of a soft air, so that nature seemed ambitious of collecting productions of the most opposite character, and of establishing an amicable contention, in which each season seemed to claim possession of the place as its own. He adds, that the climate not only produced different fruits, but preserved them for a long time; that grapes and figs were supplied for ten months without interruption, and other fruits during the whole year. Strabo describes part of the country as rocky, but commends that about Jordan or Jericho. Josephus observes, that the Jews were desirous of increasing their numbers, from which, it may be presumed, that the land was capable at least of sup porting its inhabitants. Whatever sterility and want of population may be complained of at present, should be attributed in great measure to the influence of political changes, to the vexatious tyranny and bad policy of the government, and to the consequent neglect of the inhabitants, and their want of industry and numbers to work the soil, as well as to the harassing incursions to which they are exposed from the Arabs *
* Plin. Hist. Nat. lib. xii. €. 25. lib. xiii, c. 4. lib. xiy. c. 20.
+ De Bell, Jud. lib. ii.
It is to be observed also, that in the time in which the great population prevailed in Judæa, it was sustained under favourable circumstances resulting from the simplicity of manners, and the frugal habits of the people. The land was not covered by those masses of buildings, and those extensive gardens, woods, and parks, which occupy in modern times such large spaces of productive ground in other countries--All was open to cultivation or to pasture. .
As the people also were interdicted from commerce, and few devoted themselves to the arts of refinement or to science, no class was exempted, nor was any part uncultivated.
* See Lettres de Quelques, Juifs. a Mons. de Voltaire, vol. i. and Shaw.
If the country was mountainous, it is to be considered that the extension of the surface thence resulting, and containing according to Hecatæus three millions of acres afforded great range for cattle in climates of the latitude of Judæa ; it is the mountain which affords short and rich pasture, in which the flocks particularly delight, and by which their flesh and milk are improved, hence it was that Hebron was granted to Caleb as a favour.
It cannot reasonably be conceived that writers, who addressed their countrymen, and who professed to reveal the promises of God, and to relate their accomplishment, could describe that as fertile, which in fact was barren, or speak of a population which did not exist; and there are still sufficient proofs of the fruitfulness of the land to justify this persuasion.
Nothing can be more unphilosophical than to rest on the vague and hasty reports of some travellers, who have visited this country in later times, and to set them up, even when contradicted by others more in