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ENDOR, NAIAW, A WD NAZARETH.
mother. And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died.” We follow the bereaved mother, choking down her sobs, and saying “It is well,” as she rides hurriedly across the plain to the prophet's haunt on Carmel, and sympathize with her joy as she receives back her son.” A little farther to the north stands another village, to which a more tragic interest attaches—ENDOR, the goal of Saul's journey the night before his death. The Israelites, as we have seen, were encamped near the fountain of Jezreel on Mount Gilboa, the Philistines at Shunem, about midway between Endor and the camp of Saul. The king at the peril of his life gropes his way past the outposts of the enemy to reach the woman who is to reveal to him the secrets of the future. The village retains its ancient name unchanged. And one of the numerous caves still, as formerly, used as dwellings may have afforded a fitting abode for the miserable and wicked woman whose heart relented towards the doomed and despairing king.” A ride of about fifty minutes brings us from Endor to NAIN. It is a small, poor village, standing on the shoulder of a hill, looking down on one arm of the Valley of Esdraelon. Not very far from Nazareth, and visible across the valley from the hill above the town, it is by no means improbable that our Lord may have known the young man and his widowed mother. If, as many suppose, He was Himself “the only son of his mother, and she was a widow,” a special reason for the miracle is at once discovered in His deep human sympathy with a case so like His own. A steep path leads up the hill side to a group of rock-hewn graves, marking the site of the ancient burial-place of the town. It was on this very path that our Lord saw the weeping mother and “had compassion, and said unto her, Weep not.” Turning to the bier, His word of pity became a word of power, and “He said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him unto his mother.” But a spot of yet deeper and more absorbing interest than any we have visited since we left Jerusalem draws us onward, and we hasten over the intervening space till we reach NAZARETH. Up among the hills to the north of the plain is a valley about a mile in length, and perhaps a quarter of a mile in breadth. Several smaller valleys run out from it, and at the junction of two or three of these it expands into a basin over which the hills rise to a height of four hundred or five hundred feet. “It seems,” says Dr. Richardson, rather fancifully, “as if fifteen mountains met to form an enclosure for this delightful spot: they rise round it like the edge of a shell to guard it from intrusion. It is a rich and beautiful field in the midst of barren mountains.” The bottom of the basin is bright with gardens and orchards, divided by hedges of prickly pear twelve or fourteen feet high. The town stands on the western side of the valley and rises a little way up the slope of the hill. It has a brighter, cleaner, and more prosperous look than any town we have seen since leaving Nablus. The population was estimated by Robinson at four thousand. It has increased since then, and is now probably about five thousand. Of these a large proportion are Christian in profession, though it is to be feared that their conduct is little in keeping with the pure and high morality of the gospel. Two large monasteries, one of the Greek, the other of the Latin rite, contain a large number of monks. A recently established Protestant mission seems to be efficient and successful. The inhabitants of Nazareth, like those of Bethlehem, are deservedly famed for their personal beauty. I was fortunate enough to be present at the wedding festivities of a wealthy landed proprietor in the town. The bride, unfortunately, was absolutely ugly; but I was greatly struck by the fine features of many of the women and the noble bearing of the men. Dr. Porter says truly, “If we go out and sit for an hour of an evening by the little fountain, we shall see many a face which Raphael might have chosen as a study when about to paint his Madonna della Seggiola, and many a figure that Phidias might have selected as a model for Venus.” Monkish legends and traditions of course are rife throughout the town and neighbourhood. Always offensive, they are doubly so here, both from their absurdity and from the contrast they afford to the silence of Scripture respecting the youth and early manhood of our Lord. We are shown the workshop of Joseph, the house of Mary, and the place from which it was carried away to find its final resting-place at Loretto ! A cave is pointed out as the place of the Annunciation. A large slab of stone is declared to be the table at which our Lord and His disciples ate before and after the Resurrection. The traditional Mount of Precipitation is two miles away from the town in defiance of the express statement of Scripture that it was on “the brow of the hill on which the city was built.” The fountain of Mary at the eastern end of the town is a place of deep interest. At all hours of the day groups of girls may be seen who have come hither to draw water. It is the common centre around which the whole life of the village gathers. The pilgrim stops to quench his thirst, the shepherd to water his flocks, the girls, with merry song and laughter, fill their pitchers, linger for a gossip with their friends, then poising the vessel upon
2 Kings iv. 8–37. * I Sam. xxviii. 3-25. * Luke vii. 1-15.