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W E climb the steep ascent which rises to
V the north of Khan Minyeh with frequent halts, and casting many a “longing, lingering
look behind ;” for we know that when we turn the crest of the hill we shall have lost sight of the lake on whose waters we have sailed, round whose shores we have wandered, with such profound interest. The district upon which we are now to enter, though the scene of many memorable events, is yet barren of
Scriptural associations as compared with the region we have lest. The tribes of the extreme north played a conspicuous part in Jewish history under the Judges. But with the establishment of the Kingdom the chief, almost the sole, interest is concentrated in the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, of Ephraim and Manasseh. The records of the tribe of Dan are especially meagre. It contributed only one great name to Jewish history—that of Samson—and he belonged to the original settlement of the Danites in the south-east on the borders of the Plain of Sharon. The statement in Judges xviii. 30, 31, seems to imply that even at this early period the children of Dan had separated themselves from the commonwealth of Israel and established a political and religious organization of their own, which lasted down to "the captivity of the land." This may account for the remarkable omission of all mention of the tribe not only in the genealogical tables of 1 Chronicles ii.- xii., but also in the enumeration of "all the tribes of the children of Israel " in Revelation vii. 4-8.
The contrast between what the country once was and what it is now which has so often been referred to already, is most striking in the district upon which we are now entering. Dr. Porter says : "On reaching the brow of the long ascent, where the lake lies far below us, with the green valleys radiating from it, and the rich plateaux spreading out from the top of its high banks, we cannot refrain from sitting down to gaze upon that vast panorama. A mournful and solitary silence reigns over it. Nature has lavished on it some of her choicest gifts ; but man has deserted it. In the whole Valley of the Jordan, from the Lake Hûleh to the Sea of Galilee, there is not a single settled inhabitant. Along the whole eastern bank of the river and the lakes, from the base of Hermon to the ravine of Hieromax—a region of great sertility, thirty miles long by seven or eight wide—there are only some three inhabited villages! The western bank is almost as desolate. Ruins are numerous enough. Every mile or two is an old site of town or village, now well-nigh hid beneath a dense jungle of thorns and thistles. The words of Scripture here recur to us with peculiar force-'I will make your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation. . . . And I will bring the land into desolation : and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.'”. .
Leaving the hilly country which lies on the northern side of the Lake of Gennesareth, we enter a broad open plain through which the Jordan meanders on leaving Lake Hûleh, the WATERS OF MEROM of Scripture.
About two miles south of the lake is an ancient bridge called Jisr Benat Yakûb (the Bridge of Jacob's Daughters). The exact meaning of the name is unknown. It seems to have originated in an erroneous tradition that the patriarch crossed the river at this spot when returning from his sojourn in Mesopotamia, and met his brother Esau here. But no reason is assigned for his daughters being introduced in connection with it. It was formerly a post of considerable
importance, being the point at which From a Sketch by T. Jenner, Esq.
the main road from Egypt and Jerusalem turned westward to Damascus. Century after century invading armies or caravans of peaceful traders have passed to and fro along this route; but
'Lev. xxvi. 31-34. 'Handbook for Syria and Palestine,' vol. ii. p. 434.
none of them have lest results so deep and lasting as when, eighteen hundred years ago, Saul of Tarsus,“ breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, . ... journeyed to Damascus,”: little thinking, as he crossed this bridge, that he should return to preach the faith he now sought to destroy.
Of Lake Hûleh little was known until it was explored by Mr. Macgregor in his canoe voyage on the Jordan. It is a triangular sheet of water, about four and a half miles in length by three and a half in its greatest breadth, surrounded by an impenetrable morass covered with tall canes and papyrus
reeds, through which, as the Arabs declare, it is impossible even for a wild boar to make its way. It could not be surveyed from the shore, and until Mr. Macgregor's adventurous expedition no boat had ever floated on its waters. The additions which he has made to our knowledge of the hydrography of the district are of the highest value; and his vigorous narrative of the difficulties he surmounted, and the perils he escaped amongst the wild Bedouins of the district is familiar to all our readers.
It was in this hot, seething, pestilential, but fertile plain that Joshua, after the subjugation of central and southern Palestine, fought his third and last
1 Acts ix, 1-3.