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ELIJAH ON MOUNT CARMEL.
out into the Mediterranean, and is crowned by the convent of Mar Elyas, from which the Carmelite monks take their name. At its south-eastern end, a short distance below the summit, is a level plateau which looks down upon Jezreel and commands an extensive view over the whole plain. Its modern Arabic name is El MUHRAKAH (the place of burning, or of sacrifice). A perennial spring, which is said never to fail even in the severest droughts, furnishes a copious supply of water.
Near the foot of the hill is a mound called the Tel Kasis (the hill of the priests). The river Kishon, which Aows along the plain immediately below the plateau, is called the Nahr el Mukatta (the river of slaughter).' All these names naturally connect themselves with the sacrifice of Elijah, who on this plateau brought together the priests of Baal, and when they had failed to win an answer from their idol gods, built an altar, and drawing water from the fountain which after three years' drought still furnished an adequate supply, poured it over the sacrifice. The Lord God of Israel answered by fire. The appeal was irresistible. The whole people exclaimed with one voice—“The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.” Within sight of the idolatrous city, and beneath the eyes of the king, the apostate priests were seized, dragged down to the mound and river, and slain.
The prophet now ascends to the top of the hill just above, from which a magnificent view of the Mediterranean is obtained. Burying his face in his mantle, in importunate prayer, he sends his servant to look out toward the sea. At last a cloud is descried no larger than a man's hand. For three years the sky had been cloudless. Now the harbinger of rain is gratefully welcomed. The prophet returns with the glad tidings to the monarch—“ Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.” These words have caused some perplexity to commentators. Their meaning becomes perfectly clear as read on the spot. The Kishon, generally fordable at this point, and now, doubtless, perfectly dry after the protracted drought, would soon become a rushing, furious torrent, as in the days of Sisera. Besides which, the Plain of Esdraelon consists of a rich alluvial soil, absolutely impassable for carriages after a heavy rain-fall, and difficult even for horsemen or pedestrians. If Ahab is to return to Jezreel he must do so at once. “And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. . And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.”.
This famous battle-field finds a place in the prophecies of the New, as well as in the histories of the Old Testament. The name by which it is commonly known, Esdraelon, is but a Grecised form of the Hebrew Jezreel. It was likewise called the Valley of Megiddo from the town near which some of its
* It is, however, possible that Mukatta may be a corruption of Megiddo.
? 1 Kings xviii. In common with all recent writers on this subject, I must confess my obligations to Dean Stanley's invaluable summary of the historical associations of the Plain of Esdraelon, in his 'Sinai and Palestine,' pp. 335-357.
most desperate conflicts raged. Hence in the Book of Revelation it is spoken of as “the place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (the hill, or fortress of Meggiddo). This is not the place in which to discuss the precise meaning of the prophecy, nor to inquire whether the inspired writer indicated a particular locality as the scene of the final conflict, or used this historical plain as typical of the battles yet to be fought between the powers of light and darkness. One thing is clear, that the struggles of which the valley has been the theatre only foreshadowed that more desperate conflict which awaits us when “the spirits of devils, working miracles, go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”: Whatever the time, the place, the nature of that final conflict may be, its terribleness cannot be doubted as we read the descriptions given of it in the visions of Patmos. But the issue is certain. The wars of ancient Israel were waged with doubtful fortune-victory and defeat alternated. But in that “great day of God,” though the battle seem to hang long in suspense, the victory is sure. The “Captain of our Salvation ” “goeth forth conquering, and to conquer.” “He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet.” Nor is the conflict altogether future. Even now it rages around us, and we are summoned to take part in it. Neutrality and indifference are impossible. “He that is not with us is against us." May the solemn words of reproof and warning spoken of those who stood aloof in the Valley of Esdraelon sink into our hearts. “Curse ye Meroz! said the angel of the Lord, Curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof! Because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty." “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him ; but if Baal, then follow him.”,
Bir Kausch Sch-sada
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Kaukay. Kefrena d die
Aulat al Tusti
ca Suntral Athlit
Enlarged from Keith Johnston's Map. NORTHERN PALESTINE, OR GALILEE.
daries of Galilee and Samaria. Originally
Israel had been in the centre of Samaria, was under the Romans its northern boundary, and belonged to Galilee. Jezreel and the other historic sites in the neighbourhood being so closely connected with the southern kingdoms have been spoken of in the preceding chapter. We now proceed to the region lying to the north of the plain.
Galilee thus defined consists of a series of fertile hills and valleys, stretching down from Hermon in the north to Tabor and Little Hermon on the south. Its uplands are better wooded, its valleys and plains are richer, its natural beauty greater than the rest of Palestine. Van de Velde truly describes it as “a land rich in beauty and fertility. A thick wood of oaks and other trees continued for a considerable way over the heights, again through the valleys, but everywhere characterised by a luxuriance of verdure, by which you can recognise at once the fertility of Naphtali's inheritance."
Joshua xx. 7. i Kings ix, 11.