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JAFFA. To HEBRON.
declared by Pliny to have been
REEF of sharp jagged rocks, over which
the surf breaks fiercely, runs parallel
cedar-wood for building the Temple was sent hither by Hiram, king of
Tyre.’ Here Jonah, flying ‘from the presence of the Lord,' found a ship about to sail to Tarshish, “so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it.’” Somewhere within the circuit of those grey walls, “widows stood weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas had made, whilst she was yet with them.' And amongst the tan-pits on the shore once stood, perhaps still stands, the house of Simon the Tanner, where Peter was taught by vision that Jewish exclusiveness was to end,
JAFFA FROM THE North.
and that henceforth he should call ‘nothing common or unclean.” It is our first view of “Those holy fields, Over whose acres walked those blessed feet Which eighteen hundred years ago were nailed, For our advantage, on the bitter cross.’
* 2 Chron. ii. 16; Ezra iii. 7. * Jonah i. 3. * Acts is. 36–43; x. 1-18.
FIRST VIEW OF THE HOL P. LA MD. I 3
A number of boats, manned by half-naked Arabs, howling, yelling, and fighting like demons, cluster round the steamer. In one of them, retained for the use of our party, the fight is so fierce that our dragoman leaps down into it, and lays about him right and left with his heavy Korčash. This proving of no avail, he seizes one of the Arabs by the throat, and throws him into the sea, to sink or swim as it may happen. Order being at length restored, we take our seats in the boat, are skilfully steered through a gap in the reef, and soon find ourselves at the foot of some black slimy steps, leading to the Turkish custom-house. A crowd of wretched creatures press round us, clamouring for backshish. The unpaved road is ankle-deep in mud. Foul sights, and yet fouler smells, offend the senses. To most of my companions the sight was altogether new and strange. For myself, having had some previous experience of the filth and squalor of an Oriental town, I was not taken by surprise. But the disenchantment of the rest of the party, as they first set foot on the soil of Palestine, was complete. One American gentleman, who had come prepared to go into ecstasies, and had avowed his intention of falling on his knees on landing, to express his gratitude for being permitted to tread the sacred soil, looked round with a comical expression of bewilderment, and exclaimed, ‘Is this the Holy Land 2’
Picking our way through a tortuous labyrinth of dismal alleys, we found our tents pitched outside the town. The camping ground is a spot of rare beauty. The Mediterranean, of a clear crystalline blue, studded with white sails, rolls up upon the beach. The long coast-line of Philistia runs north and south. Groves of orange, lemon, citron, fig, and pomegranate, vineyards and gardens, the produce of which is famous throughout Syria, form a broad belt round the city. The plain of Sharon, bright with verdure and enamelled with flowers, stretches inland. The mountains of Ephraim, blue against the eastern sky, form a beautiful frame for a lovely picture. It was easy to understand how a name meaning ‘the beautiful’ should have been borne by the town for three thousand years.
The traditional house of Simon the Tanner furnishes, from its flat roof, a fine point of view for this charming scene. And there is reason to believe that the tradition is not far wrong. The house is by the seaside; ' ' the waves beat against the wall of its courtyard. An ancient well, fed by a perennial spring, furnishes the water needful for the tanner's trade; and tanneries of immemorial antiquity probably go back to the time of Peter's visit or even earlier. The vision here vouchsafed to the apostle gains a new appropriateness on this spot. Joppa has always been the port of Jerusalem. It is, indeed, the only port of Southern Palestine. Thence ‘the ships of Tarshish’ were seen coming and going. The ‘isles of Chittim” (Cyprus) lie just below the horizon. It was the point at which the Jewish and Gentile world came into contact. Peter, looking out over the waters of
* Acts x, 6.