תמונות בעמוד

his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes : his eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk." ;

We noticed, too, the vineyards walled round with stones, collected from within the enclosure, each with its wine-fat and a tower, constructed, like the fences, with stones and masses of rock which would otherwise have marred the soil ; and the words of Isaiah found an exact illustration, “My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill : and he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein.”? The parable spoken by

[graphic][merged small]

our Lord was, at the same time, vividly illustrated. “There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower.”3

The grapes are either eaten fresh, or dried into raisins, or boiled down into grape-honey (dibs), or made into wine. Of course the Mohammedans leave the production and consumption of the latter to the Jewish and Christian residents, its use being forbidden by the Koran. I found the wine of Hebron strong, but very sweet, being loaded with grape-honey, and apparently flavoured

3 Matt. xxi. 33. Mark xii. 1. Luke xx. 9.

I Gen. xlix. II, 12.

: Isa. v. 1, 2.


with spices, tasting much like the elderberry wine which is made in country districts in England.

The first view of Hebron is very striking. It is picturesquely situated among groves of olives, on the slope of a hill at the southern end of the valley of Eshcol. Solidly built with blocks of grey weather-beaten stone, it has an appearance of great antiquity, as befits a city reared “seven years before Zoan in Egypt.”. Zoan has disappeared, but Hebron still stands, with a history which goes back for more than three thousand years. The ancient names of the city—“Kirjath-Arba, the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron," are no longer used.

are no longer used. But its modern name is strangely impressive and affecting. It is now known as El-Khulil, that is, The Friend, leading the mind back to the title given to the illustrious patriarch by God Himself, " Abraham, My friend."3 It is by this name that he is always known throughout the Mohammedan world; and the epithet has passed over from the patriarch himself to the city with which he was so intimately associated.

Very early in the life of Abraham we find him encamped "in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and he built there an altar unto the Lord." He and his nephew Lot had parted. Lot had chosen the well-watered and luxuriant plain of the Jordan, which lies just across the range of hills on the western slope of which Hebron stands; and Abraham had remained on the elevated plateau, which was henceforth to be inseparably associated with himself and his descendants.

It was whilst encamped at Mamre that he received tidings of the disaster which had fallen upon his nephew. Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, with his allies, had attacked and sacked the cities of the plain, had carried away Lot as captive, and, laden with spoil, was returning to his own country. Abraham at once collected his clan, “ born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan,"s the extreme northern city of Palestine. A Num. xiii. 22. ? Joshua xxi. 11.

3 2 Chron. xx. 7. Isa, xli. 8. James ii. 23.



[ocr errors]

• Gen. xiii. 18.

5 Ibid. xiv. 14.

[ocr errors]

battle was fought, in which Chedorlaomer was slain, his army routed, and Lot with his family delivered from captivity.

Some years now passed by, in which the names of Hebron and Mamre do not occur, though it is probable that some of the incidents recorded happened there. Then “the Lord appeared unto him in the plain of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; and he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him.” The prompt hospitality of the patriarch was just such as would be offered by an Arab sheikh at the present day. Travellers have delighted to illustrate the history by narrating similar incidents in their own experience. Soon the mysterious visitants "rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom : and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way over the ridge of hills which divided Mamre from the doomed city. Two of them continued their journey, “and went toward Sodom.” The third remains-it is the Lord Himself, the Angel of the Covenant. He discloses to Abraham the impending destruction of the cities of the plain, which would involve Lot and his family in the general ruin. The patriarch, who had once before rescued his nephew from the cruelty of man, now ventures to interpose between him and the judgments of God. His fervent prayer having reached its end, “the Lord went His way, as soon as He had left communing with Abraham : and Abraham returned unto his place." With the dawn of day we find him an eager watcher from the hill-top above his tent. “Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord : and he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.” It affords an interesting confirmation of this part of the narrative that from the summit of the hill just above the traditional site of Mamre a view may be gained, through a notch of the dividing ridge, right down into the desolate valley beyond.

Hebron next comes before us as the scene of bereavement. "And Sarah died in Kirjath-Arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.” He, to whom the whole land had been promised in “a covenant which could not be broken,' possessed not a foot of soil in it, and must buy a grave saying, “that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” The negotiation with the sons of Heth which followed, is finely characteristic of the courtesy, the generosity, and the practical wisdom of the bereaved patriarch. The purchase of the cave of Machpelah is effected and the place of burial is transferred, the narrative of the completion of the purchase being recorded in terms, the precision of which is like that of a legal document. Sarah is buried there, and “then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah." 1 Gen. xviii, 1, 2, 16, 33. ? Ibid, xix. 27, 28.

* Ibid. xxv. 8, 9.


3 Ibid. xxii. 2-20.


Yet again we read that “ Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned. And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years. And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days : and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him."

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

Here Jacob lived after the death of his father, and hence he sent the beloved son of his beloved Rachel to visit his brethren at Shechem. Here, too,


side. he buried Leah, as Sarah and Rebekah had already been laid side And he gave commandment concerning his bones,” that the same sacred enclosure should be his last resting-place. Hither his embalmed body was

? Ibid. xxxvii, 1-14.

3 Ibid. xlix. 29-33.

: Gen. XXXV. 27-29.

brought with all the pomp and ceremonial of mourning for which Egypt was famous, and here, probably, the mummy of the last of the three great patriarchs rests to this day.'

We have already seen that the spies, starting from Kadesh-Barnea, passed through Hebron when sent up “to spy out the land." One of them, Caleb the son of Jephunneh, faithful among the faithless, had rebuked the fears of the people, and “wholly followed the Lord God of Israel." To him and his heirs Hebron had been promised as the reward of his fidelity. After the defeat of the Ammonites by Joshua, when the city was stormed and sacked by the victorious Israelites, Caleb claimed the fulfilment of this promise, “And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance."3

For some time onward, Hebron receives only slight and passing mention. But in this old royal city, hallowed by so many associations, David established

[graphic][merged small]

his throne on the death of Saul, and here he reigned as king of Judah for “seven years and six months."4

and six months."* Soon Hebron again comes before us as a place of burial.

Abner, falling a victim to the vengeance and ambition of Joab, who slew him in the gate of the city, received a magnificent funeral, and king David himself followed the bier, and they buried Abner in Hebron, and the king lifted up his voice and wept, and all the people wept. A tomb is yet shown and regarded with great reverence as that of Abner.

One spot in the suburbs of Hebron we are enabled to associate with the residence of David here. There are two tanks or pools just outside the

! Gen. 1. 1-13. It will be observed that the historian lays special stress upon the embalmment. “And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father : and the physicians embalmed Israel. And forty days were

? Num. xiii. 22. fulfilled for him ; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed.

3 Ibid. xiii. 33 ; xiv. 6-24 ; xxxii. 12. Joshua xiv. 6-15; XV. 13.
2 Sam. ii. 2-11. i Kings ii. 11.
I Chron. iii. 1-4.

2 Sam. iii. 22, 39.



[ocr errors]
« הקודםהמשך »