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villages stand amidst the luxuriant vegetation, the inhabitants of which, unprotected by the government, have to repel, as best they can, the attacks of the marauding nomads whose black tents may be seen on every hillside. These sons of Ishmael, in whom the prophecy respecting their father is still exemplified, "he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him,”: render travelling without an escort dangerous, but they add greatly to the picturesqueness and interest of the scene. In the evening their long lines of flocks and herds pouring into the encampment form a most striking object in the landscape, and the elders may often be seen grouped
around a tent door recounting their exploits, or planning a foray upon some hostile tribe, or listening to a story-teller reciting a tale from the 'Arabian Nights Entertainments. Upon a life of settled industry they look down with contempt; "Mayst thou become a fellah” (a peasant) is one of the bitterest curses which a Bedouin can pronounce upon his fellow-wanderer.
Soon we enter the northern portion of the plain of Sharon, through the centre of which we passed on our way eastward from Jaffa. Leaving behind us the mountains of Samaria and reaching the shores of the Mediterranean, we find ourselves at Kaisariyeh, the ancient CÆSAREA. This city was built by Herod the Great, with the design of connecting
i Gen, xyi. 12.
himself more closely with the western world, and leaving behind him a lasting monument of his power and magnificence. A vast mole was run out into the sea to afford a secure harbour for shipping. A city was reared which might vie in splendour with those of Italy, and surrounded with
fortifications which were deemed impregnable. A temple to Cæsar containing statues not inferior to that of Jupiter Olympius, so Josephus asserts, rose on an eminence within the walls. But the attempt thus to perpetuate his memory was vain. All has gone down to utter ruin and decay. Even in Palestine itself it would be hard to find a spot more utterly desolate than
THIRZA, THEBEZ, AND DOTHAN.
that of the proud capital of Herod. In the present day it is only remembered by its connection with the obscure, hated, and despised sect whose founder he sought to slay in His cradle at Bethlehem, and to whose death at Calvary his son and successor was a consenting party. It was the scene of some of the most memorable incidents in the Acts of the Apostles. Here Philip the deacon, after the baptism of the Abyssinian eunuch, lived for many years as the pastor of prosperous church, and the centre of missionary activity throughout the whole region. The first Gentile convert was here admitted into “the fellowship of the saints,” in accordance with the vision vouchsafed to Peter at Joppa, a day's journey down the coast. It was at Cæsarea that Herod Agrippa was smitten with the Divine judgment upon his impious pride and vainglory. Hither Saul of Tarsus was brought on his way from Jerusalem ; and here Paul the Apostle, as a prisoner, “reasoned of temperance and righteousness and judgment to come with such persuasive force as to draw from one of his judges the confession, “ Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."
Continuing our journey we soon leave the plain of Sharon, and find ourselves amongst the lower spurs of Carmel, whose long ridge runs out as a bluff promontory into the sea, a few miles to the northward. This, however, will more fitly occupy a place in a subsequent section.
The other route from Samaria to Galilee leads us through a district richer in Scriptural associations than that just described. It runs almost due north through a series of picturesque glens, or over romantic hills which need only a moderate amount of labour to be turned into a succession of gardens. At a little distance to the right is Talūza, the Tirzah of the kings of Israel, a royal residence, the beauty of which furnished Solomon with the comparison, " Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah !”2 A little farther on is Tūbas, or THEBEZ, where Abimelech was slain by the hand of a woman, his ignominious death furnishing a proverb for after years.3
About twelve miles north of Nablus, and just before descending into the plain of Jezreel we pass the entrance to a broad, deep valley, or basin amongst the hills on our right. Its name, DoThan, recalls one of the most memorable incidents in the lives of the patriarchs which formed one of the turning-points in the history of the Church and of the world. Joseph, sent by his father to visit his brethren in their favourite camping-ground at Shechem, found on his arrival that they had passed northward to Dothan. Hither, therefore, he followed them; and “when they saw him afar off they conspired against him to slay him.” Having cast him into one of those deep pits with which the district yet abounds-excavations formed by the inhabitants of the land for storing grain or water, often shaped like an inverted funnel--they left him to perish.
| Acts viii. 40; ix. 30 ; x. 1, 24 ; xi. 11 ; xii. 19 ; xviii. 22 ; xxi. 8, 16; xxiii. 23, 33 ; xvi., xxv., xxvi. 1 Kings xiv. 17 ; xv. 21 ; xvi. 6, 8, 15, 23. Cant. vi. 4.
Judges ix. 50. 2 Sam, xi. 21.
Relenting in their murderous purpose, or prompted by the selfish hope of gain, they subsequently drew him thence, and sold him to a company of Midianites from Gilead, who were passing on their way down into Egypt." Upon this slight incident the whole after-fortunes of the nation turned.
Here, as elsewhere throughout Palestine, a study of the topography of the district gives unexpected confirmation or illustration to the narrative. Dothan lies just off the main route by which the Bedouins, like the Ishmaelites of old, travel on their way southward. Crossing by the upper ford of the Jordan, near to Beisan, the ancient Bethshan, the caravans enter the main
road at Jenin, a short distance to the north, and pass the very spot indicated by the inspired historian. I met several parties of Bedouins near Dothan, "who came from Gilead with their camels,” conveying the produce of the Hauran to exchange it in the bazaars of Jerusalem, Nablus, or Jaffa for the manufactures of Europe, which is to the Syrian nomads of the present day what Egypt was to their forefathers three thousand years ago.
The mound of ruins which rises from the valley of Dothan, marks the site of the city. It was here that Elisha hid himself from the fury of the
1 Gen. xxxyii. 12-28.